|Little baby Beyer at 13 weeks, 1 day|
I'm happy to be able to say that my wife and I are expecting our first child. It's a strange thing, being an expectant father--to know that one has produced a new life and, at the same time, to have that life remain hidden from view. That is to say, I know I have a child, but, not having met him/her, it's a very abstract and theoretical kind of knowledge.
Expectant mothers, on the other hand, begin being affected in very tangible ways very early on. It's kind of amazing how quickly and to what degree a new mother begins to be affected in every way possible. Of course, the new baby has affected me too, but only in a sort of indirect, "I'd be happy to run to the store at 4am to get you a cinnabon," kind of way. In other words, it seems like my role as an expectant father has little to do with the child, except in an indirect way, insofar as I am responsible for caring for its mother.
All of this makes me wonder whether there's something to the fact that motherhood seems to come along gradually, as the baby grows, growing and affecting its mother more and more over time, while fatherhood hits you all of a sudden in the delivery room.
In some ways, I think it's true that my wife has been a mother since we conceived, but I won't really be a father until the baby is born. This turns out to be more than just a feeling of mine, too. Apparently, when the baby is born, it will already recognize its mothers voice, but won't recognize mine over anyone else's for quite some time. I think this speaks to the fact that real fatherhood has to be earned.
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." This is the beginning of all faith, the foundation on which all religion lies. Everything that is receives its being, more or less directly, from the first cause of all things, God. This makes him our Lord. But Christ teaches us to call him "Abba, Father." Could we rightly do that if, in good Deist fashion, he had simply created a machine that would run its course while he observed from afar?
It is true that God is the Other, infinitely transcendent. Scripture tells us, "His greatness is unsearchable," (Ps. 145:3). Yet, because all being proceeds from him, everything that is bears his mark, as it were--participates, shares in his ultimate Being, otherwise it would not be. This is the sense in which God is "all in all," for "in him we live and move and have our being," (Acts 17:28). "In the words of Saint Augustine, God is 'higher than my highest and more inward that my innermost self.' With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end," (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 300-301).
The reality, then, looks something like this:
God creating ex nihilo and of his own free will, yet eternally, even though that Creation happens in time.
It is God's act of Creation which makes him our Lord and God. It his continual act of sustaining that Creation from within, that makes him our Father. Our God interacts with his children on a daily basis, sustaining us moment-by-moment, giving us everything we need to succeed. For that matter, giving us everything he is, in Christ, allowing his entire existence to revolve around his beloved children.
Human fatherhood, then, imitating the Divine Fatherhood, sticks around. True Fatherhood lasts a lifetime. It is a gift of self to one's wife and children, a gift of self without reservation, a gift "unto death, even death on a cross," (Phil. 2:8). This gift is given, not primarily out of a sense of moral responsibility, though this is necessary, but out of love, a love which is action in the family and in the world, day in and day out.