This morning I was reflecting on the way in which loving my infant son makes me imitate the Father’s love for me. In this connection, there is a story to relate from George Weigel’s biography of Pope John Paul II. The Pope, Weigel wrote, kept an old photo of his parents. The mother died when Karol was a small boy, and the father died when Karol was just entering manhood. “This is how he remembers them,” Weigel wrote. Note the striking double entendre. In other words, the Pope remembers his parents looking as they do in the picture, taken so many years ago, decades after they died. At the same time, the photo is what enables the Pope to remember his parents, or at least to remember their faces; otherwise he just could not, the distance in time being too long. Thus, this is how he remembers them.
Back to my infant son and me. This is how God loves him, and how God loves me. In other words, I love my son, or try to, in the manner in which God loves me, that is to say, with great tenderness and compassion, fatherly care, even the care of a hen for her chicks, and delight. And this is also the means by which God loves him, i.e.. through the love of his earthly father. (Of course not exclusively through his earthly father, for there are many others who also love my son.) In other words, manner and means become one. As I try to love as God loves, I imitate God. I “play” God. What enables me to do this except God himself, namely the Holy Spirit? And through this play, in which I am the willing and cooperating actor, God actually does love my son in deed. My son is loved by God through the love of his father, and the father is divinized in the process.