JPII and Motherhood–Part 2

Dr. Kathryn Rombs // Metaphysics of Motherhood


February 5  

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John Paul II develops this illumination of motherhood through the fatherhood of God: “When in union with the apostle, we bow our knees before the Father from whom all fatherhood and motherhood is named (cf. Eph 3:14-15), we come to realize that parenthood is the event whereby the family. . . is brought about ‘in the full and specific sense.’” He claims that mothers and fathers together bearing children are the full realization of the family, and that it is in light of our worship of God the Father that we begin to understand the meaning and importance of fatherhood, motherhood and the family. John Paul II is grounding a theology of the family, taking a new initiative in explicitly naming motherhood as finding its meaning in the fatherhood of God.
John Paul II keys into Ephesians 3:14-15, seeing it as a basis for an understanding of motherhood. Ephesians 3:14-15 says “I bow my knee before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,” where the Greek word “pater” translated “the Father” is etymologically linked to “patria” which is here translated as “family” (it can also be translated father, fatherland, nation, tribe, etc.). Paul is saying that the family gets its name from the fatherhood of God. John Paul II locates motherhood within “patria,” and makes the bold, new claim that motherhood, along with fatherhood and the family as a whole, is a reflection of the creative power of God.
For John Paul II, motherhood and fatherhood together analogically reflect God’s creative act: “Motherhood necessarily implies fatherhood, and fatherhood necessarily implies motherhood. This is the result of the duality bestowed by the Creator upon human beings ‘from the beginning.’” Neither fathers nor mothers alone are a suitable reflection of God’s fatherhood and of his being the source of the universe. Instead, John Paul II insinuates, it is best to see both fatherhood and motherhood in their mutual interdependence as the more fitting reflection of God.

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