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A Father who never tires of us

· At the General Audience Benedict XVI speaks of God's almightiness as an expression of love, mercy and forgiveness ·

It is far from easy today to talk about God's fatherhood, especially in the Western world, marked by the break-up of families and by absorbing concerns and commitments and its incapacity to provide credible models of fatherhood. However, in speaking to us of God, of his revelation, the Bible shows what it really means to be a loving and merciful father, capable of forgiving. This is the essential meaning of the Catechesis that Benedict XVI offered to the faithful taking part in the General Audience this morning, Wednesday 30 January, in the Paul VI Hall.

Continuing his Reflections on the Creed, the Pope dwelt in particular on the difficult relationship between father and child in a context, such as today's, in which even communication is becoming problematic and trust in the father figure gradually eroded. It is consequently becoming difficult even merely to try “to imagine God as father”, the Pope noted.

And this is what the biblical revelation and the Gospel propose, in order to understand how far and how the ways and thoughts of God differ profoundly from our own. God revealed himself, the Pope affirmed, as a loving and merciful Father, even to the point of giving his Son for our salvation. And, the Pontiff added, “the full manifestation of God's greatness as the 'Almighty Father' is brought about 'on the glorious cross' ”.

This omnipotence, Benedict XVI explained, does not infer magic, nor is it expressed as an arbitrary force or automatically enslaved  to contingent human desires. On the contrary, it is marked “by a loving, paternal freedom” which shows that only someone who is powerful “can respond to evil with good, to insults with forgiveness and to homicidal hatred with life-giving love”.

Only in this way is it possible to defeat evil once and for all, “cleansed by God's love”, the Pope concluded. In this way “death, the great enemy, is engulfed and deprived of its sting, and we, set free from sin, can have access to our reality as children of God.

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