“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him;
yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own,
and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him,
who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,
who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh
or of the will of man, but of God.
“A Gift for the Person Who Has Everything!” These words of a Christmas ad caught my attention. I read on and found the ad promoting a home DNA kit to learn one’s ancestry. You’ve probably seen ads like it. Swab the inside of your cheek and send it off for analysis to discover who you are and from where you came. Actually, the Bible has quite a lot to say about who we are and our origins. In it we can discover our spiritual ancestry.
There is a biblical sense by which we can say we are all “children of God”, God’s creatures by creation. The apostle Paul says we are God’s “offspring” (Acts 17:29). The Gospel of Luke traces the ancestry of Joseph, Jesus’ foster-father, all the way back to being a “son of Adam, son of God” (Luke 3:38). Yet, we are not born sons and daughters of God in the more intimate, spiritual sense that comes from believing in Jesus Christ and sharing in His life. In John’s Gospel Jesus will later say to Nicodemus, “You must be born from above” (John 3:7b). We all need a new beginning in life, to be born from God above and freed from Adam’s sin-doomed family tree.
Jesus the Word, who was God and who was with God, comes from above to empower us to become children of God. That is His reason for coming, the reason for the season! Church Father Irenaeus, in the second century, aptly described Jesus’ mission: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, of his boundless love, became what we are that he might make us what he himself is.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies)
Jesus came from “close to the Father’s heart” (John 1:18) to take us, with Him, close to the Father’s heart. Thus, John’s Gospel emphasizes God as Father. While the word “Father” (pater) is used 66 times in the other three gospels combined, John uses it 122 times in his Gospel. Jesus comes to reveal the Father to us (John 1:18) and to take us to the Father (John 14:1-6).
Today’s Scripture says Jesus empowers those who receive and believe in Him become God’s children. “The Trinity seeks to share its very own intimate ‘family’ life with human beings, made according to their own image and likeness.” (George Maloney, Entering into the Heart of Jesus) Through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection we are made “joint-heirs” with Christ, fully entitled to the privileges of family members (Romans 8:17). And Christ gives to us His Spirit so that when our hearts cry, “Abba! Father!” we can know, “It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:15b-16).
Jesus the Word, through whom all things came to be, makes us children of God to share in His very being and nature. He lavishes us with love so that we might go out and love others with His love. My earthly father used to describe someone as being “a chip off the old block”. By that he meant a person resembles his or her parent. So too, God created us in His image and redeemed us so that we might resemble Him. Over time we are being transformed into His glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18).
We’ve got an incredible ancestry! Because our heavenly Father is love in His essence (1 John 4:8), He looks to reproduce His love in us. His eternal purpose is to make us more and more like Him (Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36). Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen rightly observed, “There are two births of Christ: one unto our world in Bethlehem, the other in the soul when it is spiritually reborn.” (Fulton Sheen, Rejoice)
What do you get for that person who has everything? Pray we all take on God’s spiritual DNA!
- What does Fulton Sheen mean by being “spiritually reborn”?
- Where am I growing in family resemblance to the heavenly Father?
PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP
For a moment hold your PALMS DOWN in a symbolic gesture of letting go to God your worries for the day, the busyness of the season, and expectations of the way the holidays ought to be. Release all of these concerns to God.
Next, hold your PALMS UP as a symbolic gesture of receiving God’s gifts, provision, and guidance for today.