Paternal love precedes filial love. In our bodily life and in our spiritual life it all starts with the father’s love. The love of our heavenly Father gifted us with life in its mortal sense as well as its eternal sense. All love goes back to this. Our earthly father’s love for our mother so operated in God’s love to bring us into existence. The love of that mother and father hopefully reflected and passed on the love of our heavenly Father and we were raised in this reflection. I am and I love are, here and now, extensions of the love of my heavenly Father as reflected in the love of my earthly father and mother. That I am able to love in a filial sense, that is, to love others, is because of paternal love; and there is a lesson in this.
Thinking seriously of the words of the “Our Father” over the years I have been prone to make my own little “adjustments” cautiously trying to do no violence to it. I abhor the archaic “Thee” and “Thou” of many prayers and so my first adjustment was to substitute “You” for each “Thee” and “Thou.” Next, like an editor concerned with space, I condensed “…Who art in heaven…,” to simply “…in heaven…” Finally, in terms of direct address, I shortened “Our Father” to simply “Father.” I was quite satisfied with “Father in heaven hallowed be Your name…” etc., until some reading and some thinking convinced me that the elimination of one of those words did indeed do serious violence to the prayer. The word was “Our.” With the elimination of that small word I had, in one swoop, eliminated the concept of filial love emanating from the Father. It is because of His love that each one of us can look at each other and say “our.” It is the “our” that binds us together in the human community.
Another aspect of the filial emanating from the paternal is that of responsibility. We are responsible for passing on the progressive evolution of our perceptions of paternal love in a filial manner. The love of the Father is manifested by the love of the Son. So should it be that we, as fathers, bestow in an exemplary fashion, the love that we wish our offspring to bestow on each other. It is through the Son that we know the Father, but the paternal love of the Father came first. It is an example for us of what being a father means and how a father loves. It is this primal love from the Father that we, as a father, emulate and pass on.