The Sons of God1. In the beginning of his Gospel St. John speaks of the eternal nature of the Son of God, the Word through Whom all things were created and Who became man to enlighten and redeem the world which was wallowing in ignorance and sin. Unfortunately, he adds, instead of welcoming Him the world rejected Him, but he goes on to say that “to as many as received him he gave the power of becoming the sons of God.” (Cf. John 1:1-12) These words are a summary of the history of Christianity, and indeed of the human race, for Jesus Christ was to be a “sign that shall be contradicted.” (Luke 2:34) On one side there have always been the children of the world, those who ignore or openly combat Christ; on the other, the children of God, the thousands who acknowledge Christ as the hope of salvation and the light of the world, and adore and love Him as God.
To which side do I belong? Perhaps I am convinced that I have never attacked or rejected Christ. But, in effect, I did so every time I committed a deliberate sin, for I put my own caprice before His will. God’s grace in me was weakened by venial sin, or extinguished altogether by mortal sin. As a result, I ceased to be a child of God, and became a child of Satan. In losing Jesus I forfeited all real happiness in this world and in the next.
2. We are, or ought to be, sons of God. We are His adopted sons by means of the grace which gives us a share in His divine life. This idea is contained even in the Old Testament. “You are gods, all of you sons of the Most High.” (Ps. 81:6) “The Spirit himself,” explains St. Paul, “gives testimony to our spirit that we are sons of God. But if we are sons, we are heirs also: heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ.” (Rom. 8:16-17)
In other words, the grace of God transforms us and makes us His adopted sons. The supernatural life is grafted on to the soul, bringing forth a new man who is capable of actions which will deserve an everlasting reward. We must not allow the old tree, with its dead branches and barren fruit, to spring up again within us; the old man with his defects and evil inclinations must remain dead.
If God’s life is extinguished in us, we shall cease to be His heirs and co-heirs with Christ. We shall be incapable of doing anything good and shall be destined to eternal damnation.
3. If we wish to increase in ourselves the divine life of grace which makes us children of God, we must struggle against our sinful inclinations and cultivate the different virtues. Our lives must be a continuous ascent towards perfection and towards God. We must not be led astray by the passing attractions of the world. Worldly glory and success resemble the coloured balloons which are the delight of children as they rise up towards the sky, but which soon float back to earth when they have been emptied of air.
It is only by our efforts to achieve Christian perfection that we can become true children of God. Then we shall experience a little happiness on earth and shall be happy forever in Heaven.