Paul VI Hall
Wednesday, 16 January 2019
Catechesis on the "Our Father": 5. "Abba, Father!"
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Continuing the catechesis on "Our Father", today we start from the observation that, in the New Testament, prayer seems to want to reach the essential, to the point of concentrating in one word: Abba, Father.
We have listened to what St. Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans: "You did not receive a slave spirit to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit who makes adoptive sons, through whom we cry out:" Abba! Father! "» (8.15). And to the Galatians the Apostle says: "And that you are sons, the fact proves that God sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, who cries out:" Abba! Father! "» (Gal 4,6). Return twice the same invocation, which condenses all the news of the Gospel. After having known Jesus and listening to his preaching, the Christian no longer considers God as a tyrant to be feared, he no longer fears it but he feels his trust in him flourish: he can speak to the Creator calling him "Father". The expression is so important for Christians that it has often been kept intact in its original form: "Abbà".
It is rare that in the New Testament Aramaic expressions are not translated into Greek. We must imagine that in these Aramaic words the voice of Jesus himself remained as "recorded": they respected the language of Jesus. In the first word of the "Our Father" we immediately find the radical novelty of Christian prayer.
It is not just a question of using a symbol - in this case, the figure of the father - to be linked to the mystery of God; instead it is about having, so to speak, the whole world of Jesus poured into one's heart. If we carry out this operation, we can truly pray the "Our Father". Saying "Abba" is something much more intimate, more moving than simply calling God "Father". This is why someone has proposed to translate this original Aramaic word "Abbà" with "Papa" or "Babbo". Instead of saying "Our Father", say "Daddy, Father". We continue to say "Our Father", but with the heart we are invited to say "Dad", to have a relationship with God like that of a child with his father, who says "dad" and says "father". In fact, these expressions evoke love, evoke warmth, something that projects us in the context of childhood: the image of a child completely enveloped by the embrace of a father who feels infinite tenderness for him. And for this, dear brothers and sisters, to pray well, we must get to have a child's heart. Not a sufficient heart: so you can not pray well. Like a child in the arms of his father, his father, his father.
But surely it is the Gospels that introduce us better in the sense of this word. What does this word mean for Jesus? The "Our Father" takes on meaning and color if we learn to pray to him after having read, for example, the parable of the merciful father, in the 15th chapter of Luke (cf. Lk 15: 11-32). Imagine this prayer pronounced by the prodigal son, after experiencing the embrace of his father who had waited a long time, a father who does not remember the offensive words that he had told him, a father who now makes him understand just how much he missed . Then we discover how those words come to life, they take strength. And we ask ourselves: is it possible that You, or God, only know love? You do not know hatred? No - God would answer - I only know love. Where is in you revenge, the claim of justice, the anger for your wounded honor? And God would answer: I only know love.
The father of that parable has in his ways of doing something that is very reminiscent of a mother's soul. It is especially the mothers who excuse their children, cover them, do not interrupt their empathy, continue to love, even when they no longer deserve anything.
It is enough to evoke this single expression - Abbà - to develop a Christian prayer. And St. Paul, in his letters, follows this same path, and it could not be otherwise, because it is the path taught by Jesus: in this invocation there is a force that attracts all the rest of the prayer.
God is looking for you, even if you do not seek him. God loves you, even if you forgot Him. God sees beauty in you, even if you think you have squandered all your talents in vain. God is not only a father, he is like a mother who never ceases to love her creature. On the other hand, there is a "gestation" that lasts forever, well beyond the nine months of the physical one; it is a gestation that generates an infinite circuit of love.
For a Christian, to pray is to simply say "Abba", to say "Papa", to say "Santa", to say "Father" but with the trust of a child.
It may be that we too happen to walk on paths far from God, as happened to the prodigal son; or to fall into a loneliness that makes us feel abandoned in the world; or, again, to be wrong and to be paralyzed by a sense of guilt. In those difficult moments, we can still find the strength to pray, starting from the word "Father", but said with the tender sense of a child: "Abbà", "Papa". He will not hide his face from us. Remember well: maybe someone has bad things inside him, things he does not know how to solve, so much bitterness for having done this and that ... He will not hide his face. He will not close in silence. You tell him "Father" and He will answer you. You have a father. "Yes, but I am a delinquent ...". But you have a father who loves you! Tell him "Father", he begins to pray like that, and in silence he will tell us that he never lost sight of us. "But, Father, I have done this ..." - "I never lost sight of you, I saw everything. But I was always there, close to you, faithful to my love for you ". That will be the answer. Never forget to say "Father". Thank you.
FULL TEXT and Image Shared from Vatican va - Unofficial Translation
Greetings in Various Languages:
Je suis heureux d’accueillir les pèlerins francophones, en particulier les jeunes de Bordeaux et de Lyon. A la veille de l’ouverture de la semaine de prière pour l’unité des chrétiens, je vous invite à nous tourner ensemble vers notre Père commun, en lui disant nous aussi Abba ! Que Dieu vous bénisse !
I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups coming from Korea and the United States of America. In the context of the forthcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I offer a special greeting to the group from the Bossey Ecumenical Institute. My cordial greeting also goes to the priest alumni of the Pontifical North American College. Upon all of you I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!
Herzlich heiße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache willkommen. Besonders grüße ich die Delegation des Burgenlandes in Begleitung von Bischof Ägidius Zsifkovics sowie das Festkomitee des Kölner Karnevals zusammen mit Kardinal Rainer Woelki. Gott ist unser Vater, und wir dürfen seiner treuen Liebe zu uns ganz gewiss sein. Der Heilige Geist mache uns zu wahren Kindern Gottes und leite uns allezeit.
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y Latinoamérica. Los animo a dirigirse a Dios como un Padre que nos ama y que sale a nuestro encuentro. No se cansen de llamarlo; porque él como Padre bueno viene a sanar nuestras heridas y a restablecer la alegría de ser sus hijos. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.
Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os de Terrugem, bem-vindos! Depois de amanhã, começa o Oitavário de Oração pela Unidade dos Cristãos; durante aqueles dias intensifiquemos as nossas preces e penitências, para que se apresse a hora em que se realize plenamente o anseio de Jesus: «Abbá…, ut unum sint – que todos sejam um só!» Desça a bênção de Deus sobre os vossos passos e sobre as vossas preces comuns pela reunificação da Igreja. Obrigado!
أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللّغةِ العربيّة، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الشرق الأوسط. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، تذكّروا على الدوام أنَّ الله-المحبّة ينقل إلينا رغبته في أن ندعوه "أبّا" أيها الآب، بالثقة الكاملة التي يتحلّى بها الطفل الذي يسلّم ذاته بين يديّ ذاك الذي منحه الحياة. لننطلق مجدّدًا من هذه الكلمة وسنختبر فرح أن نكون أبناء محبوبين من الله. ليبارككم الرب!
Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów, a szczególnie grupę z Sanktuarium św. Stanisława, Patrona Polski, w Szczepanowie, miejscu narodzenia tego Biskupa i Męczennika, którzy przybyli, aby przypomnieć o rocznicy wizyty, jaką św. Jan Paweł II złożył tuż przed wyborem na Stolicę Piotrową. Drodzy bracia i siostry, w komunii ze świętymi, z synowską ufnością módlcie się: „Abbà – Ojcze!”, prosząc o Jego błogosławieństwo dla was, dla waszych rodzin i – w tych dniach – dla młodych, których wkrótce spotkam w Panamie. Proszę, nie zapominajcie modlić się za mnie. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!
Week of prayer for Christian unity
January 18-25, 2019
Next Friday, with the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on the theme: "Try to be truly just". Also this year we are called to pray, so that all Christians return to be one family, coherent with the divine will that wants "that all may be one" (Jn 17:21). Ecumenism is not optional. The intention will be to develop a common and consistent witness in the affirmation of true justice and in the support of the weakest, through concrete, appropriate and effective responses.
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I extend a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking pilgrims.
I am pleased to welcome the Pastoral Unit of Orbetello, the San Paolo Parish Oratory and the Schools of the district.
I greet the parish groups, in particular those of Montoro and Talsano; the Juppiter Association of Capranica and the De Rosa Institute of Sant'Anastasia.
A particular thought I address to the young, the elderly, the sick and the newlyweds, who are many.
I wish everyone that this meeting will revive communion with the universal ministry of the Successor of Peter and, at the same time, be an opportunity for renewal and spiritual graces. I invoke upon you all the joy and peace of the Lord Jesus!