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The John Paul ll Center Blog

Blog 4: Be Transformed - The Father’s Beloved

By: Dr. Bob Schuchts

As the Father has loved me,

so have I loved you,  

remain in my love

Jn 15:9

We Are All Wanted by God

“Every child a wanted child!”  You may recognize this slogan as the rallying cry of the Planned Parenthood Organization over many decades.   I suspect it originated out of the life experience of their founder, Margaret Higgins Sanger….

On first blush Sanger’s motto of “every child a wanted child” sounds eerily similar to the teaching of the Church, but in reality it stands in direct opposition. Sanger’s solution was to reject and eliminate any child not wanted by family or society. The Church, in contrast, values every human life and believes that every child is worthy of being welcomed into the world with love. Kimberly Hahn beautifully articulates the Church’s position in a few succinct words: “Children are only and always a blessing…. They have value for their own sake because they are created by God in his image. Children are pure gift.”(i)

In the Father’s household, there are no unwanted children; only ones that have  not yet realized their true dignity.  Every child is a wanted child because every single person is created by God and chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world (Eph. 1: 4; CCC 1077).  In the Father’s heart, there are no throw-away or disposable children, or adults for that matter. We are all wanted and have inestimable value because we are made in the image and likeness of our God, who is love (1 Jn. 4:8).

i. Kimberly Hahn, Life Giving Love, 54

The Gospel of Life and Love

The Gospel of Life and Love is best exemplified by another woman, St. Theresa of Calcutta, who throughout her life and missionary work reverenced the image of God in every person. Championing life, she cherished every person she encountered, giving special care to those that the world would deem unfit and unwanted. Ultimately, she invited the outcasts and discarded of society to experience the intimate love of Jesus, leading many to receive their true dignity in the sacrament of baptism(ii). In Mother Teresa’s worldview, there truly were no unwanted children, only ones not yet fully blessed.

ii. Blessed Mother Teresa (sources)

The Gift of the Father’s Blessing at Baptism

Baptism is a public blessing declaring that you and I are precious and  unrepeatable gifts of the Father(iii).By restoring our relationship with God, baptism fundamentally heals the wounds of rejection which have plagued the human race since our fall from grace. Though God never rejected Adam and Eve, their decision to reject him invited a curse of rejection into the world, which has infected all of humanity.  Subsequently, every child born into this world is marked with an inherent deficiency due to original sin (see Romans 6; CCC, 396−398); outside of baptism we remain cut-off from the Father’s love and delight.

iii. Fr. Thomas Phillipe and Marie Bernadette Fusselman (see her thesis).

Reversing the Curse   

In Christ (through baptism), this primordial curse of rejection is reversed; we receive the blessing of the Father and are elevated to participate in his Trinitarian love. Thus begins the long journey of healing and re-integration, where the Holy Spirit, with our cooperation, restores us to wholeness and re-establishes our identity in the image of God. We become as St. Paul says, “new creations” in Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ” (2 Co. 5:17−18). 

In baptism, we receive the blessing which the Father bestowed upon Jesus at his baptism: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:17).  The same Holy Spirit who descended as Gift upon Jesus, also comes to dwell in us. Through this supernatural re-birth, the Father pours out his love as pure gift, washing us clean (by the blood of Jesus and the symbol of water) of anything that would defile us, and filling our hearts with his love.  In this process of cleansing and regeneration, every baptized person is sealed as the Father’s beloved child.  

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