Who We Are

"See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are." (1 John 2:29). 

The late Patristics scholar and historian, Benedictine Fr. Godfrey Diekmann, often said that the Gospel of divine life was the best kept secret of the church. How are we to absorb and then live the idea that we are children of God, destined to share the inner life of the Trinity for all eternity? Being a human being is challenging enough, yet the truth of the Incarnation is that Jesus made every human act holy. Human struggle and suffering are holy. Everyday ordinary tasks are holy. Every human relationship has a sacramental dimension: To love one another is to know God. We are full of grace.

For Diekmann, salvation came when Jesus took up our human journey, infusing every human life with divine possibilities, opening us to a new destination that empowers us to live differently, more fully and without fear. The path to holiness and the path to human maturity are now the same path. The glory of God is a human being fully alive. Every human talent is multiplied within community. Personal plans are enhanced and fulfilled when they serves the common good. We are brought together by the Holy Spirit in a great web of mutual giving that unites us as the body of the risen Christ in the world. 

John the Baptist called Jesus "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world." What did this mean? Redemption was not rescue from without, but restoration from within. Because Jesus was human, he could engage and transform every distortion and weakness in our nature by reorienting it back to God. Jesus confronted our temptations in his own body. He struggled with human pride and the urge to rebel, and he submitted himself in perfect obedience to God.

Jesus sought out the broken-hearted, the self-destructive and the outcast, embracing them and restoring them to God and to the community. In every encounter with evil, Jesus absorbed the damage sin had inflicted on humanity, offering himself as ransom for all those enslaved and addicted to sin, setting them free in exchange for his own life. In the astonishing words of St. Paul, "Though he was sinless, he became sin in order that we might become the grace of God."

Though we were unlovable, Jesus loved us back to lovability, reconnecting us, even though we were sinners, to the infinite, unconditional and undeserved mercy of God.  The Gospels shout this secret to the world, whether it is listening or not. Jesus whispers it in our hearts, even when we cannot hear it because of the noise we generate to distract ourselves. Our true identity is godlike. Our destiny is divine life with God forever. What can compare with this good news?  Is this not the joy of the Gospel?