February 18, 2013
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
When the Christian creed refers to God as "father," it is affirming a trust that the God who created the universe loves each individual and will never abandon anyone, Pope Benedict said.
"It isn't always easy" to explain to people what it means to believe in God the father, especially when today's fathers and their children experience such difficulty communicating with each other, the pope said.
"For those who have had the experience of a father who is too authoritarian or inflexible, or indifferent and not affectionate, or particularly if he is absent, it is not easy to think of God as father and let oneself trust him."
The pope's talk at his Jan. 30 weekly general audience was the second in a series looking at statements of faith in the creed.
Understanding what the Church means when it calls God "the Father Almighty" may mean people have to set aside their personal experiences when considering the words "father" and "might," Pope Benedict said.
The Bible, especially the Gospels, "reveals the face of God as a father who loves us to the point of giving his son to save humanity," he said.
The love of God is "infinitely greater, more faithful, more complete than any human love."
"As Father, God accompanies our existence with love, giving us his Word, his teaching, his grace and his Spirit," he said.
Pope Benedict said many people today believe God can't really be "almighty" or all powerful when there is so much evil and suffering in the world.
Some people, he said, basically expect God to exercise a kind of "magic power," immediately changing any situation they find difficult or painful.
Often, he said, "we want a divine omnipotence that coincides with our mindset and desires."
"Creating free creatures, God renounced part of his omnipotence," the pope said. But even giving men and women the ability to choose evil over good, his constant love means God is always there, urging conversion and offering mercy, forgiveness and salvation.
"Only one who is truly all-powerful can fully exercise the power of love," he said.
In allowing Jesus to die for the sins of all, Pope Benedict said, God shows what "true, authentic and perfect divine power" is: "responding to evil with good, to insults with pardon, to homicidal hatred with a love that gives life."
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