As a seminarian, it is natural to think of my life in relation to priesthood. And, as a matter of fact, that is what I spend most of my time thinking about. All of my classes, my spiritual life, and daily routine are heavily centered around preparation for priesthood – and rightly so. As I inch closer and closer to ordination, there can begin to be doubts and fears about the future and what is unknown to come.
Perhaps an antidote to this fear can be found in the most likely source – Jesus, the Son of God. Before all else, Jesus Christ was the eternal Son of God. Before He was our great High Priest, Savior, and resurrected Lord, Jesus was the eternally beloved Son of the Father. We see this most manifestly in the baptism scene in which the heavens are opened and we hear the voice of the Father ring out clearly: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
Through our own sacramental life, beginning with baptism and finding its perfection in the Eucharist, the Father speaks the very same words over us. In baptism, we become adopted sons and daughters of the Father, and in the Blessed Sacrament we share in the very Body and Blood of God’s only Son.
Take a moment to imagine a world in which we lived in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God. Romans 8:19 even goes so far to say that all of creation is yearning for this reality. How much different would the stresses of our daily life seem? No longer would there be that extra stress of pleasing my boss or making sure I compare positively to my peers. Likewise, all of that time wasted on relatively petty stressors can be reordered to our relationship with the Lord. Further, actively living in that relationship as a son of God leads not only to this freedom, but also to a certain fearlessness.
In 1 John 4:18, we read that “perfect love casts out fear.” What does this perfect love look like? Quintessentially, the only truly perfect love is that which exists between Father and Son. We call the love the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who constantly returns us to live in our divine filiation. Just the same, it is the Holy Spirit who roots us in our primary identity as the sons and daughters of God.
To put it in more human terms, think about little children. They are the most fearless people on planet earth. They are constantly climbing on unstable structures, putting filthy things in their mouths, and regarding clothing as optional. Why are they so unashamed and free? It seems to me because they are most perfectly children; that is, they live in the full reception of the love of their mother and father.
In the Holy Spirit, the very same is offered to us on the supernatural level. God readily gives us the grace of fearlessness. In view of future anxieties and uncertainties, there is one thing that doesn’t change – our identity as the very sons and daughters of God – an identity which lasts even past the grave. So, let’s go forth in this freedom. Let’s fearlessly climb over any instability about the future, while we place spotless Body of Christ on our tongues, and forever live in our baptismal garments in which we were first called God’s beloved sons and daughters.