Although I can’t personally vouch for it, this story is said to be true. A Sunday school superintendent in a protestant church had two new boys — brothers — to register for Sunday school. After writing down their names, she asked them for their ages and birthdays. One of them said, “We are both seven. My birthday is April 8, 1976 and my brother’s is April 20, 1976.” “But that’s impossible,” answered the superintendent. “No, it’s not,” one of the brothers answered, “One of us is adopted.” Without thinking, the woman asked, “Which one?” The boys looked at each other and smiled. The older one spoke up, “We asked Dad, but he said the loved us both and couldn’t remember any more which one of us is adopted.
This is good news. Through baptism and faith we become fully adopted and fully accepted children of God sharing the same inheritance as Jesus. In that beautiful second reading St. John reminds Christians to remember their privileges.
It is our privilege that we are called children of God. There is some-thing in a name. In a sermon to parents on how to raise children, St. John Chrysostom suggested that parents name their children after holy men and women in the Bible or in the Church. Then teach them the story of their namesakes again and again to give them a standard to live up to in life. We who are called children of God have standard to live up to: the standard of Jesus Christ whose name we carry as Catholic Christians.
But as St. John points out, we are not merely called children of God; we are children of God. It is by nature that we are creatures of God, but it is through baptism that we become children of God. This is like the difference between paternity and fatherhood. Paternity describes the fact that a man is responsible for the birth of a child. Fatherhood describes a loving relationship. Baptism is the beginning of what is meant to be a life-long relationship with the Lord.
What does it mean to be a child of God? It means that we
- rely more on God and less on ourselves
- grow in relationship with God thru prayer, scripture, worship, service
- obey God in all things and not just the commands we agree with
- continue to learn about God and our Catholic faith
- share with others our life with and our faith in God
- express and show our love for God in what we say and do.
John tells us that we are God’s children now. Let’s be sure to live like it.