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The Challenge of Family Imagery: Moving Towards the Fatherhood of God
The imagery involving sons and fathers in Sacred Scripture can prompt unexpected responses: • “Some of the language is not inclusive,” comments one person reviewing a new catechetical resource. “Speaking of us as 'adopted sons' excludes those who aren't male!” • “I really couldn’t stomach the first reading of our service today,” a non-Catholic friend confides over Sunday lunch. “It was such an unpleasant story, about Abraham being prepared to sacrifice his son when asked to by God. How could any father do that?” • “I’m worried I just can’t grasp this idea of God as like the father who routinely walks out to see if his son is going to come home,” says an RCIA candidate. “That wasn’t what family life was like for me, growing up, so how can I ever understand what God is like?” The relationship between the Father and his Son is essential to Christian Revelation through which “God speaks to man in a human way.” However, for some adults, scriptural accounts involving family imagery can seem like an obstacle. Obviously, the facts of an individual’s past are what they are, and a catechist is no psychotherapist. However, the catechist is in a position to help by highlighting helpful interpretive principles and imparting a deeper understanding of Christian truths.