33 Years Ago Today – Papa Luciani’s Comment on God as Mother

Thirty-three years ago today, during his Sunday Angelus instruction, Pope John Paul I made is famous comment attributing maternal qualities to God’s love.

This caused quite a stir among many for reasons that, in all honesty, I think were misunderstandings of his teaching.

His comment, “He is our father; even more he is our mother,” was made in a certain context that is important to consider. He was identifying with the prophet Isaiah who said, “Can a mother forget her own child? But even if it should happen, God will never forget his people,” which refers to God’s undying love and his unshakeable benevolence toward us.

Here is the last half of his address that day:

“…He replied through Isaiah the Prophet — “can a mother forget her own child? But even if it should happen, God will never forget his people.” Also we who are here have the same sentiments; we are the objects of undying love on the part of God. We know: he has always his eyes open on us, even when it seems dark. He is our father; even more he is our mother. He does not want to hurt us, He wants only to do good to us, to all of us. If children are ill, they have additional claim to be loved by their mother. And we too, if by chance we are sick with badness, on the wrong track, we yet have another claim to be loved by the Lord.”

The beginning portion of his talk highlighted the ongoing peace talks between the Egyptians and the Israelis being brokered by President Carter at the time. Recall too that Luciani had said very early in his papacy that he would spend himself completely to unify the Church. So the theme of unity was running in his mind that day.

His comments about God as father and as mother speak to his desire to unify all and brings to my mind the words of St. Paul when he spoke of there being no longer male or female, Jew or Greek, slave or free… all are one in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Papa Luciani, pray for us!

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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