I was reminded in prayer this morning that we are all adopted, by grace and baptism, by God into His family. Christ's Sacrifice makes us all brothers and sisters in Christ. St. Paul is very clear: we are not slaves to an angry god; we are God's very children:
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!" The Spirit itself bears witness without spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ... Romans 8:15-17
Now, most people would read that and think: "How wonderful! Adopted by God! Adoption is so wonderful; now I won't be an orphan, out in the world alone." And that is true. But it's not completely true.
Here's the inside scoop on adoption: it's built on loss. It's built on relationships that crashed and burned. It's built on heartbreak, heartache and heart-wrenching choices. Please let me be clear: God's adoption is perfect, but we are not. When humans get added to the mix, we muck things up.
And that's exactly what we did when we first came into relationship with God. At first, things were perfect. We lived in perfect harmony with God and His creation. It was, as they say, all good.
Until it wasn't. We rebelled. We thought we knew best. We struck out on our own, knowing in our heart of hearts that the rules God had given us were not REALLY meant for us. (If all of this sounds like a parent and teen relationship, you are right on the money!) We broke our trust, our relationship with God.
(I don't want to stretch the comparison too far, but you can see the similarities between our choices and how they affect our life in God, and how a rebellious teen's choices might wear on a parent, can stand in comparison to our relationship with God our Father.)
But because God is all-loving, all-good, all-perfect, He not only gave us a way to be in relationship with Him again, but a way to salvation. He sent us His Son, who by His Life, Death and Resurrection gave us new life, and also brought us back into the family fold.
In adoption, there is joy. There is also tremendous heartache: a family must "give up" a child. Another couple struggles with the loss of fertility. An adult child searches for his biological family. A mother mourns a child she relinquished decades ago. Adoption isn't "good" or "bad." It is so good, so much of the time and does what it is supposed to do: give a child in need a home. But in order to make it work, we have to be real: adoption isn't without trial and heartache and loss.
In adoption, there is joy. There is also heartache. Family might not understand why we choose to be Catholic. We mourn years spent in sin and waste. There is trial and heartache and loss. We recognize we are helpless to sin and need salvation. We need a Father and a Brother and a Mother. We need God and Christ and the Church. And they are all right there, waiting for us with open arms, in a spirit of grace and adoption.