One of the more noticeable things in Thor: The Dark World (which I just so happened to review for Aleteia this week, plug, plug) is how the filmmakers go out of their way to explain that the Asgardians are not gods, but rather just really, really powerful and long-lived aliens instead. I don’t know, maybe they had an aneurysm or something, because it seems like somebody on the screenwriting staff completely forgot about this scene from Ghostbusters…
So, yes, if somebody asks you if you’re a god, you say yes! Besides, the Catechism says it’s okay to do just that, doesn’t it? You know, right there in paragraph 460 where it quotes 2 Peter 1:4, as well as the writings of St. Irenaeus and St. Athanasius…
The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."
See, we’re gods. Gods I tell you! Or maybe not.
What Peter and the other saints are talking about here is the concept of Divine Filiation, aka Divine Sonship. As Fr. Joseph Ponessa, S.S.D., co-author of the “Come and See” Catholic Bible Study Series, explains it, “While St. Athanasius’s quote might be easily misunderstood, the previous line in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Catechism), from St. Irenaeus, provides the appropriate context… To be the Son of God and to be a son of God are therefore two very different things: Christ is Son by nature (the “only Son” in John 3:16), while we are sons by grace (“sons in the Son” according to Gaudium et Spes, 22). Further, since man is a creature and there is only one God, man can never be God in the proper sense. Within the context of this paragraph, we see that St. Athanasius’s statement means something other than a man becoming the one God.”
So, what does it mean exactly? Well, basically, it all has to do with God making Himself accessible to us. As Fr. Ponessa puts it, “When God created Adam and Eve, He desired them to participate in His divine nature—to be able to love Him in an intimate way that exceeded the normal ability of human nature. So in addition to their human nature, God bestowed on Adam and Eve the supernatural gift of grace of original holiness (Catechism, no. 375). He thereby invited Adam and Eve to love Him as He loves Himself—that is, in a divine way. However, when they sinned, Adam and Eve forfeited this ability to love God supernaturally. Christ became flesh in order to restore our union with God. In Baptism, we are united to Christ (cf. Gal. 3:27)—sharing in His Passion, Death, and Resurrection (cf. Rom. 6:3-4)—and so become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). Because there is only one divine nature and this nature is God, we are said to “become” God.”
So, no, we don’t become all powerful gods, or even really powerful Asgardian type gods for that matter. But what we do get when we “become God” is the chance to spend an eternity basking in the light of the one true God’s love. That’s a pretty good deal.