XXIV. How do we come to know the Father? This was implied in Philip’s request to Jesus at the Last Supper: “Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answers him: “Philip, have I been with you all this time, and you still do not know Me? Whoever sees Me has seen the Father.” This is the purpose of the Incarnation, the eternal Son coming among us in our humanity: to reveal the Father, to communicate the Father’s love and mercy by being that very love and mercy made flesh, and demonstrated in unimaginable lavishness in the sacrifice of the Cross.
Thus the Our Father can only be adequately understood in the context of salvation history. We are not to think of God the Father as some super-eminent ideal of what we know from human fathers; rather, human fatherhood can only be measured by what God the Father reveals to us. This is the same logic as we find in the title of Christ, the King: Christ’s kingship is not to be thought of as the best of earthly leadership, but rather defines for us what earthly power ought to imitate: humility, charity, self-sacrificing mercy, making peace.
Revealed in Jesus, then, God’s Fatherhood has two aspects. First, there is the fact of our creation. God is our Father because His love is our origin, the foundation of our very existence. Second, there is our sanctification, our gradual coming-to-be in the image of Christ. We are beloved children of one Father, yet just as in our human lives, so our spiritual lives are meant to be dynamic, changing, growing into our full potential. Being a child of God does not mean we are subjugated, treated as irresponsible and childish daughters and sons; instead, it means that we stand in the relationship of love from and for God that makes us free and whole.