Monday, 5 May 2014

The Abiding Presence Of The Holy Ghost in the Soul, by Bede Jarrett, O.P. part 14. Heirs of God.

1. One of the conditions of adoption is that the newly chosen son should become the legal heir of the new father. Without this legal result or consequence adoption has no meaning. Merely to get a boy to enter a family circle does not imply adoption, for this last has a distinct meaning with a distinct purpose. If, then, we are the heirs of God we are really possessed of a right to His Divine Inheritance. Heaven has been made indeed our home. We speak of it in our hymns as patria, which we can translate as the “land of our fathers.” We claim it thereby in virtue of our parentage, and our parentage is of God. If, then, He is our Father, not by nature, but by adoption, i. e., by grace, we are none the less His heirs and have some sort of right over His possessions and riches. A father cannot without leave of his adopted son alienate any of the family heirlooms; the adopted son now, by the father’s own free act acquires, not indeed dominion over the riches of the home, but, at any rate, an embargo on the father’s free exercise of those riches. He could even demand, as against his father, a legal investigation into the due use and investment of them. His signature is required for every document that relates to them. He has become almost a part-owner of his father’s possessions, since he is their legal heir. All this is implied by adoption in its true sense, and therefore it must be intended to apply to us when we are spoken of as God’s adopted sons.
2. I can, therefore, truthfully speak of myself as an heir of God. Of course I cannot mean that there is any possible question of “the death of the testator,” i. e., of God. That is quite clearly of no significance here. But adoption does give me some sort of claim to the heritage of God. Now the law defines a heritage as that by which a man is made rich. It includes not the riches only, but the source of the riches, so that if I have a claim to God’s riches, I have a claim also upon the source of those riches. For the heir is entitled not merely to a legacy, but to the whole of the fortune. I have a right to the whole fortune of God, to the whole universe. At once, as soon as I realize it, the whole of the world is mine. It is the doctrine of the mystics that, misunderstood, led astray the communists of the Middle Ages. These claimed a common ownership of the wealth of all the world, whereas what was intended was that we should look upon the whole world as ours. To me, then, in life, nothing can be strange or distant or apart. No places can there be where my mind cannot enter and roam at will and feel itself at home; no things can be profane, no people who are not tabernacles of God, no part of life that is not steeped in that living presence. The only possible boundary is the love and the grace of God. There will indeed come evil frontiers beyond which my soul could never dwell. But all else is of God and is therefore my right. All creation is mine; the wonder and beauty of it, life and death, pleasure alike and pain, yield up to me their secrets and disclose the hidden name of God.
3. Here, then, I can find that divine wealth, to inherit which has been the purpose of the adoption by God. Wherever I turn I shall find Him. Whether life has smooth ways or rough, whether she hangs my path with lights or hides me in gloom, I am the heir to all that earth or sea or sky can boast of as their possession. Indeed, these are only the rich things of God, whereas I have a claim upon even more. I have a claim upon the very source of this wealth, that is, upon God Himself, for He is the sole source of all His greatness. I have a right to God Himself. He is mine. He Who holds in the hollow of His hands the fabric of the world, Who with His divine power supports, and with His providence directs, the intricate pattern of the world, has Himself by creation entered deeply into the world; at the heart of everything He lies hid. But even more by grace He comes in a fuller, richer way into the depths of the soul. Here in me are Father, and Son, and Spirit. Dear God, teach me to understand the wonder of this indwelling, to appreciate its worth, to be thankful for its condescension, to reverence its place of choice, to be conscious of its perpetual upholding. By it I am an heir to the fullness of the divine riches. By it I, a creature, possess in His fullness my Creator, Redeemer, Lord.