William Barry, S.J., is an author I love. I have found his books on Ignatian spirituality and on spiritual direction to be extremely helpful both for my own spiritual growth and in my ministry as a spiritual director. Barry’s new book s titled A Friendship Like No Other.
The friendship in title of the book is, of course, our friendship with God. One of the things he talks about is our relationship with God as father. One concern with the father image is that it risks our behaving as less than adults, as little children. Barry suggests that we should not have in mind the vision of a young child relating to his or her father when we think of our relationship to God as our father. Rather, he proposes “that the relationship between an adult child and his or her parents is a better image of the relationship God wants with us as adults.”
That strikes me as a very helpful image. God is our father, yes. But God seeks from us adult faith and seeks with us an adult relationship. And the task he invites us to participate with Him – laboring to bring about Kingdom, being co-creators of the universe – is not a task for a young child, but for the adult sons and daughters of God.