God Our Father And Our Mother
Each time we call God 'Father' we say something about the Lord who loves us as a mother and a father – and as a result we say something about ourselves too, our identity and our inheritance. Whenever I say 'Father' I mean: 'I am loved', ‘there is a legacy, a treasure, a blessing ready for me’, ‘I know who I am, where I am going, what meaning to give to my life’.
Reference to a father and a mother can be a source of joy but often also the cause of inner conflict and anguish. Many have painful relationships with their biological parents. Many others do not have a mother or a father any more or do not know them. But when Jesus teaches us to call God Father he turns things upside down. He is not asking us to picture our Father in heaven after the model of our biological parents. On the contrary, starting from God the Father we are invited to change our perception of earthly motherhood and fatherhood. Even if we did not have exemplary parents, had a conflictual relation with them or have never known them, our faith brings us healing, forgiveness and helps us to welcome the gifts of true motherhood and fatherhood.
The truth about the Father’s identity is revealed to us by the Son, Jesus. He tells us: "The word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me" (Jn 14.24). He asks us to rejoice that he goes to the Father, because in him and with him we go to the Father too. As a result of our union to the Son we are already close to the Father right now. Jesus goes ahead of us, but he promises to come back, take us with him and lead us into the Father’s presence: "I am going away and I am coming to you" (Jn 14.28).
As we await his return, we grow in likeness to the Father thanks to the Spirit he has sent us. The First Letter to the Corinthians says: "Who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them?". Therefore, since we have the Spirit of God in us, we can know God and can see everything from the viewpoint of God: “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things” (cf 1Cor 2.11-15). Above all things we know God in an entirely new way, as ourFather in heaven. In this lies the peace promised by Christ: "Peace I leave with you, I give you my peace" (Jn 14.27). It is peace with God and peace from God.
It is peace with God in the sense that we are reconciled with our Father. When he ascends to heaven, Jesus says: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (Cf. Jn 20.17). God is no longer only Jesus’ Father but is now also our Father. Jesus reunites us with him: he came as the good shepherd to search for lost sheep, place it on his shoulders and bring it back to the fold. He also came as a mother who longs to gather us “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Mt 23.37), to comfort us “as a mother comforts her child” (Is 66.13).
Jesus also leaves us the peace that comes from God. It is the peace we discover in ourselves when we realize that we are loved by God as the Father who sees in secret and takes care of us: "The Father knows what you need even before you ask him to give it to you" (Mt 6.8). It is the peace we find when we know that God loves us as a mother who fixeswhatever ambiguity we might have experienced in our earthly experiences of motherhood: even if a mother might forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for it, God assures us: “I will not forget you” (Is 49-15).