Is My Mother-in-Law’s Dog Part Of The Family?

Picture of by Matthew Leonard
by Matthew Leonard
The Art of Catholic with Matthew Leonard

See that little black dog? That’s Dixie. She’s my in-law’s dog. One of those pooches that constantly quivers like a caffeine junkie on his third espresso. More on her in a moment.

Matt's dog Sam
My dog Sam.
Matt's in-law's dog Dixie
My in-law’s purse pet, Dixie.

If you paid attention in your Catechism classes, you’re aware we’re all supposed to be “like” Christ. The Catholic life is all about being conformed to His image. (Rom 8:29, 1 Jn 3:2)

But why is it necessary that we have to be more than just “good”? Why do we have to be like Christ?

The answer lies in the fact that our ultimate destiny is union with God. “Yeah, yeah, Matt. We’ve heard it before,” you’re thinking. But think about this for a moment because it’s really important.

True union can only take place between two things that are alike. That’s why, wonderful they might be, your pet dog, cat, or iguana can never be a true part of the family.

Of course, this has never stopped my mother-in-law from calling her seven pound Toy Manchester Terrier her “furry little child.”

Regardless of my mother-in-law’s affection, Dixie will always be an animal, not a human. She can never really be a part of the family because she’s not really like the rest of the family. (Except for that one uncle who shall remain nameless.)

But a human baby can truly be adopted into a family because it is truly like the rest of the family. It shares the same nature as the rest of the family.

The same principle holds true for our union with God. We can’t be united to Him unless we become like Him. That’s why Jesus wedded a human nature to his divine nature. He became the God-man. Through his sacred humanity he created a bridge for us to his divinity.

And through prayer and the sacraments we can actually become like him. Prayer clears the debris from our lives so the grace of the sacraments can flow freely. That’s how we can become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4)…real members of the family of God.

Which also means our union with God isn’t just for later, it starts now. That’s why we’re called to be like God even in this life.

Feel free to post a picture of your “furry little child” and I pray you continue to have a Blessed Advent!


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