We shall be like him! Did you ever stop to think about exactly what God’s goal is for you? Do you ever wonder what he is doing in your life to change you?
By Deacon Frederick Bartels
22 April 2018
Life often seems not simply ordinary but boring. It can be disappointing—painful even. We’re never truly satisfied, never totally happy, always looking for more and seeking fulfillment. Why is this so? Because we were made for the infinite. We were created not only to realize permanent happiness in the Beatific Vision but to share in the very divine nature of God himself. Anything less is incomplete—a letdown.
Did you ever stop to think about exactly what God’s goal is for you? Do you ever wonder what he is doing in your life to change you? What is his plan for your ultimate future? What are you becoming in Christ? What is happening to you, perhaps slowly over time, that will one day come to fruition in a glorious, unimaginable and permanent way?
Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.1 Jn 3:1-2
1st John tells us that “what we shall be has not yet been revealed”; that is, not fully revealed. There’s a lot about our final eschatological state that we don’t know about. However, that doesn’t mean we know nothing about it! We do know something about “what we shall be,” something about what we shall become: “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
In other words, we shall be like God. We shall be like Christ. The Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, is the paradigm of our future existence. In her theological language, the Church uses the terms “deification” or “trinification” to describe the sublime, grace-filled work of God in our lives in which he progressively works to make us like him.
In fact, making us like God is the very reason why the Son of God became incarnate, assumed an individual human nature to himself, and became man. Quoting from 2nd Peter, Sts. Irenaeus and Athanasius, the Catechism tells us:
The Word became flesh to make us partakers of the divine nature: For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God. For the Son of God became man so that we might become God. The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.CCC, 460
At baptism, Christ granted you a share in his own divine nature by virtue of the infusion of his divine Spirit into your soul! At confirmation, you received an additional outpouring of the Spirit of God! When you receive the Eucharist, you consume Christ himself, who makes you into him whom you have received, as St. Augustine noted. These sacraments bring us into Christ’s kingdom in the present.
Calling our attention to Vatican IIs Lumen Gentium, which states that the “promised restoration which we are awaiting has already begun in Christ” (48), Benot-Dominique de La Soujeole writes of the nature of Christian life on earth: “Eternal life has already begun. After death, at the definitive entry into God’s glory, it is not another life that will begin; rather, we will find the fulfillment of the life given us to live here on earth” (Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition 44).
Eternal life is a reality now—albiet incomplete. Our passage through the veil of death in Christ and the subsequent general resurrection of the dead marks the attainment of its fullness.
Don’t confuse the teaching of the Church with Mormon polytheism. The Church is not saying that, after death, you go off, become a god, and inherit your own world with a plethora of other gods who each govern their own little corner of the physical universe. Christians are never gods without God. Contrary to the teaching of Mormonism, there is only one God who is three distinct Divine Persons. We remain 100% human yet share in God’s own glorious divine nature. We become “little christ’s.” All of this is made possible by Christ’s Paschal Mystery and our union with the incarnate Son of God and the sending of the gift of the Holy Spirit according to the will of God the Father.
God is deifying you! Trinifying you! Christ is making you like him—like God–that you may thus partake of his own life of glory. The process of trinification is completed at the end of time through the general resurrection of the dead, that moment when our bodies will be raised by Christ and his Holy Spirit, glorified and reunited to our soul in order for us to live throughout all eternity as a people sharing in God’s divine nature, a people who are literally like Christ.
Photo Credit: copyright Deacon Frederick Bartels. All rights reserved.
Deacon Frederick Bartels is a member of the Catholic clergy who serves the Church in the diocese of Pueblo. He holds an MA in Theology and Educational Ministry and is a Catholic educator, public speaker, and evangelist who strives to infuse culture with the saving principles of the gospel. For more, visit YouTube, iTunes and Google Play.