My father is not an effusive man.
Once a year at the holidays he compliments my singing at mass, and quips that his kind words are my Christmas present. I’ve noticed that his main way of complimenting me is to demand I do something of which he thinks I am capable. The list of things he wants to see in his lifetime is ever growing, and he seemed aware of this the other day after a show he saw me in.
“Make a record,” he told me, using the colloquialism he was most used to in order to indicate that I should record an album. He thought for a second, and added the other big projects he is often urging: “…and write a book. And get a Ph.D.”
I am not made anxious by these demands. If at Thanksgiving he tsk-tsks me for not having written a book proposal or a doctoral application, he won’t be angry or disappointed. His words will remind me of how he sees me – as capable, eager and talented.
If the theology I have studied and now teach has anything to it, I am made in the image and likeness of God. So are you. God sees us this way: burnished, hopeful, perfected, alive.
When we sin we fall short of that divine reflection. And that matters because we are made to be so glorious.
If we weren’t in the image of love, it wouldn’t matter if we hurt other people, it would be expected. If we weren’t made to be abundant, it wouldn’t matter if we were stingy. If we weren’t made to share our gifts, it wouldn’t matter if we squandered them.
When I damage relationship – and I do – it is first cause for grief, for penance, for reconciliation. But undergirding it all is hope, because I have my eyes on what God has planned for me and all of us: love, perfection, goodness and peace.