Sunday, July 29, 2007

Our Father who art in Heaven

~excerpted from a homily by Fr. B of Rationabile Obsequium

God the Father - A Uniquely Christian Doctrine

It is from Christ Himself that we learned to call God Father. We read in the Gospels that God the Son invites us to share in His Sonship, and make our relationship with God the Father the centre of our lives. We read today that the disciples were fascinated by Christ’s prayer. They must have seen Him spend many hours in conversation with the Heavenly Father, and finally worked up the courage to ask Him to teach them to pray.

Being taught how to pray is no small thing. The disciples are asking Jesus what to say to God one-to-one. In prayer before God, there is no room for pretence or falsehood, and so the prayer that Jesus gives us tells us who God really is, and what kind of people He wants us to be.

And so, He tells us to call God “Our Father.” What a revelation this is! It’s one thing believing that God created us and the entire universe; that He is Good and All-Powerful. It is quite another to learn that He wants us to call Him Father. He wants us to know that He has a Father’s love for us, and that we should not be frightened to consider ourselves His sons and daughters.

Growing as a Child of God - The Centrality of Trust

In the words of the Our Father, there is a whole course in Christian living. Whole books have been written about this prayer, but perhaps one of the most important things that the Our Father teaches us is the great virtue of trusting in God the Father. After all, the relationship between parent and child is marked by the fact that a child flourishes by trusting his parents. A child thrives and grows into a well-balanced adult by knowing that his parents want the best for him, and that whatever goes wrong, home is a place where they can return for comfort and even forgiveness.

If this is true of earthly parents, how much more is it true of Our Heavenly Father. By inviting us to call Him Father, He is reassuring us that we can trust Him and rely on Him. He asks us to trust Him for our daily bread, and to know that He is a God of forgiveness. Like the father of the prodigal Son, we are reassured that He will be quick with His forgiveness if we stray.
As a Father, we can also trust that God wants us, His children, to grow; and so He gives us a way of life. We are called to imitate Him in our forgiveness of others and in our concern that His Kingdom should prevail on Earth, as well as in Heaven.

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