In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
One of my seminary professors, who was also a priest, said that every time his teenage sons were getting ready to go out, he would tell them, “Remember whose sons you are.”
As a priest, he was known in his town, and people knew his sons. So if they got, say, drunk and boisterous, it would have poorly reflected on the father. Going out, the sons represented their family, they were their father’s image.
Of course, all of us have fathers, all of us have parents. We represent our families, we carry the family name. And our parents now, be they still alive or already with the Lord, are likely judged by others based on the behavior of their children.
As Christians we also have another Father; we have the Father. When out in public, or in the private of our family, or alone anywhere we always represent Him, we are always His image.
In both of today’s readings, from the Gospel according to Saint Luke and from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, we get counsels that are kind of similar to the ones my seminary professor gave to his sons, “Remember whose sons you are.”
When we do the will of God, when we imitate Him, we become, as Jesus tells us, the sons of the Most High. This phrase “sons of the Most High” does not apply just to males. Anyone who imitates God, both female and male, become sons of the Most High.
In the Bible, to be someone’s son was not only about being descended from him biologically. It was also not even only about growing up in his household. The main significance of being someone’s son was to do his works, to do what the father does.
Remember whose sons you are. My seminary professor was not implying to his sons to keep in mind that their father is a priest when they are getting drunk. Rather, do not get drunk because your father is a priest.
Yes, God the Father is our Father because He created us, He gave us life; and even though we sinned, He adopted us back through His Only-begotten Son Jesus Christ at our baptism. But we can lose that sonship when we imitate another father, when we forget whose sons we are.
When we imitate, for example, the father of lies, the father of deceit, the father of war and destruction, the father of greed, the father of all sin, the devil himself, we become his sons.
When we talk about being made in the image of God, we do not mean that we look like Him. It may be true that we look like God or it may not, we simply do not know, but we do hope to find out one day. But, to be made in the image of God means to do what He does.
As I mentioned, both of today’s readings give us examples of how to be sons of the Most High. First, Jesus instructs us to do to others as we want them to do to us, to love our enemies, to lend expecting nothing in return, to be merciful.
We attest to the Father’s mercy because even through our own sinfulness and wickedness He’s been patient and loving and merciful to us. We have done literally nothing to deserve His mercy. And if anyone is in delusion that we somehow are worthy of His love, then just please stop. We are not.
But when we do reflect God’s kindness and love and mercy onto others, especially those who do not deserve it (our enemies), then we remember whose sons we are, then we do what He does.
And Saint Paul says that God loves a cheerful giver. In the context of his letter, Paul is talking about money, about those who have determined to give from the heart, not as an obligation. When a church makes people give as an obligation, then the gift is devalued.
We are to give cheerfully, from the heart because we can’t make God love us by giving money to the church or charities or other good causes. We don’t buy God’s love with money, only fool’s love is bought that way. Being merciful and loving can involve cheerful giving. And when we do that, those acts please God, we do His work, we become sons of the Most High.
So these are the two examples from today’s readings that help us remember whose sons we are – through love, mercy, and generosity. But there is more, all of this needs to be done in a proper context.
Our life with the Father is a life of intimate relationship with Him, a life of community and communion. We live with our Father, we learn from our Father, we are corrected by our Father, and we receive all good things from Him. This experience teaches us to be His image, and the more we pursue this intimacy with Him, the more we naturally will imitate Him and do His works.
Remember Whose sons you are. Every time you come to church, every time you leave the church; every time you are with your spouse or child or parent or friend or stranger; every time you are stuck in traffic or behind an annoying person at the cash register; every time you are alone or at a party, your actions reflect whose child you are.
To the God Who shows us love and mercy and generosity, so that we would imitate Him and do the same, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we give glory, honor, and worship, always, now and ever and unto ages of ages.