The ‘Orphan’ Epidemic
There is an orphan epidemic in the modern world. Many children in the modern world have, in practical terms, been abandoned, even when they have one or both parents. Increasing numbers of women (with men in passive agreement) are bearing children out of wedlock (absent fathers) and/or through artificial insemination (anonymous fathers). Many marry only to divorce. As a result, a large and growing number of children are being raised without a father; fatherless orphans. Children are also being abandoned into virtual orphanhood; the vocation of parenting is being outsourced to hired day care providers, teachers in secular schools and by modern media. Many adults are also embracing orphanhood through a rejection of God the Father with growing numbers of people choosing atheism, agnosticism or ‘casualism’ in faith. Orphans abound.
The rejection of earthly fathers and the Heavenly Father yields great suffering. Modern culture is showing the negative effects of orphanhood by declines in morality and human happiness: idolatry (materialism, cult of celebrity), promiscuity, addictions (pornography, substances), the murder of abortion and euthanasia and the rejection of marriage and children, etc. Great numbers of today’s ‘orphans’ are relentless and depressed, feeling the discouraging impact of empty lives; the reality of their mortality weighs on their hearts and minds; the unavoidable issue of their eternal salvation weighs on their souls. The faithless orphans of the world bear a great burden.
Jesus Christ Revealer of Our Father
Jesus Christ comes to reveal God the Father to an orphaned world. Jesus:
- Reveals the Divine Plan of the Father – “The divine plan of Revelation is realized simultaneously “by deeds and words which are intrinsically bound up with each other” and shed light on each another. It involves a specific divine pedagogy: God communicates himself to man gradually. He prepares him to welcome by stages the supernatural Revelation that is to culminate in the person and mission of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ” (CCC 53). Man is capable of receiving this Revelation from God through his natural facilities but cannot grasp the Truth without God’s disclosure of His plan through Jesus Christ (CCC 35).
- Reveals the truth of the potential of Salvation – “Christ, . . . in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man fully manifest to himself and brings to light his exalted vocation.” It is in Christ, “the image of the invisible God,” that man has been created “in the image and likeness” of the Creator. It is in Christ, Redeemer and Savior, that the divine image, disfigured in man by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty and ennobled by the grace of God” (CCC 1701).
- Invites Man to become adopted children of the Father – While Man has abandoned God the Father, God the Father has never abandoned Man. “He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church…God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior…[and] invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, His adopted children and thus heirs of His blessed life” (CCC 1; 142). Man can move from being an orphan to being a child of God.
- Is chosen to reveal the Father– Jesus reveals that He is the exclusive way to the Father, saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6) for Jesus is “in the Father and the Father is in” Jesus (John 14:11) and as a result “Jesus is the only one who knows Him and can reveal Him [the Father]” (CCC 151). Jesus draws His Mission from the Father (John 10:18), embracing the Father’s will (Matt 26:39-42) and doing the things the Father has directed Him (John 12:49) and given Him the power to do (John 13:3).
- Has exclusive knowledge of the Father – “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (Matt 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 1:18; CCC 240).
- Reveals the Father through the Incarnation – “Christ’s whole earthly life – his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking – is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father”, and the Father can say: “This is My Son, My Chosen; listen to Him!” Because our Lord became man in order to do His Father’s will, even the least characteristics of His mysteries manifest “God’s love. . . among us” (CCC 516). God has fully revealed Himself through the Son; there is no further Revelation after Christ (CCC 73).
- Reveals the Father through action – Jesus reveals the Father through His actions: The Cleansing of the Temple (John 2:16); healing on the Sabbath in Jerusalem (John 5). Jesus repeatedly claims that the Father has sent Him (John 6:27; 8:27) and glorifies Him (John 8:54). The Father is revealed in the Son at His Baptism (“This is My Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” – Matt 3:17) and at the Transfiguration (“This is My Son, My chosen; listen to Him!” – Luke 9:35).
- Reveals the Father in prayer – Jesus teaches the disciples to pray the ‘Our Father’ (Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4 ). Jesus reveals the loving forgiveness of the Father when He prays from the Cross, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).
- Reveals the Father in His teaching – Jesus reveals that God is a loving Father: “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (Matt 18:19); the Father “knows” what we need (Luke 12:30) and it is the “Father’s good pleasure to give [us] the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Jesus refers to the Father in the parable of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15).
- Warns of the Father’s judgment – Jesus warns that He will speak on our behalf in heaven: “…but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt 10:33).
- Instructs disciples to reveal the Father – Jesus sums up the entire Revelation of the most high God (CCC 75) and is the Gospel. Jesus gives the Great Commissioning, telling His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19). All disciples are called to be evangelists, catechizing the world with Truth of Jesus Christ who revealed God the Father and the Holy Spirit (CCC 426).