In today’s second reading, Saint John illuminates the power of God’s love (1 Jn 3:1–2): “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” The Apostle does not stop here, however. He continues: “Yet so we are.” 

This scriptural passage is very simple—so simple, perhaps, that we can easily miss its importance. 

Childhood is a prominent theme in Christianity. God does not love us in a cold, distant, or impersonal way. Quite the contrary. He loves us in the most intimate and personal manner. He is not merely our “master” or “ruler.” Rather, he is Our Heavenly Father. We are his children. This is one of the most beautiful aspects of the gospel message.

And yet, we can all too easily gloss over this significant part of the Christian religion. We have heard that we are God’s adopted “children,” but we often fail to appreciate the implications of this tremendous truth. Saint John doesn’t want us to miss what being an adopted son or daughter of God means. This is why he emphasizes, both, that we have been “called the children of God” and that we truly are God’s children.

In other words, being a child of God is not merely nominal or poetic. Being a child of God is not simply a sweet or affectionate title that God gives to us. Rather, our adoptive sonship is something real and actual

God has made us his children. In reality. 

What does it mean to be a father? Parents pass on their human nature to their children. God gives human life to a human person through the person’s father and mother. Thus, in an irreplaceable way, fathers and mothers give life, identity, and existence to their children. This is why friends and family members never tire of looking for parental resemblance in new-born infants. We all know that a child comes from his or her parents and, thus, naturally resembles the parents. 

Similarly, we truly become God’s children through the sacrament of baptism. Through this first and essential sacrament, God truly makes us his adopted sons and daughters. He gives us nothing less than a share in his divine life and being. Through the sacrament of baptism, we are not just called God’s sons and daughters—we truly become his divinely adopted children.

And just as children grow up to resemble their natural parents—in appearance, mannerism, and familial existence—so the baptized sons and daughters of God can grow up to resemble their Heavenly Father. We resemble our Heavenly Father through living a life of virtue and by frequenting the sacraments of his Church—by spending time with him, by communicating with him. The grace that God gives us is not simply an ethereal or abstract “divine favor.” Grace is nothing less than a share in God’s own divine life. (See 2 Peter 1:4 and Catechism no. 1996.) We are so highly favored by God that he communicates himself to our souls.

One of the most important things for Christians to remember is that Jesus truly saves us—in reality. All too often, the gospel message is falsely characterized as mere pious thoughts or empty sentiments. It is imperative that Christians remember that Jesus assumed a human nature, lived, suffered, died, and rose again so that we could have something more than empty sentiments. The Easter season reminds us of the essential truth of the Christian faith: Jesus came to give us nothing less than himself—a share in his divine sonship. 
Jesus is a true savior. He gives us real salvation. We are not just “called” God’s children—thanks to Jesus, this is what we truly are.