Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the “Our Father” during the weekly General Audience in the Paul VI Hall, telling those present always to trust in His love.
Elaborating on the concept of “Father”, Pope Francis assured the faithful that the Lord “will not hide his face from us” nor “will he close himself in silence” because, as our Father, He never loses sight of us and loves us unconditionally even when we think we are unworthy.
The Pope explained that there is also something maternal in the love of the Father, who accompanies and nurtures the development of our new life in Christ as his adoptive sons and daughters.
God, he said, is not only a father: he is like a mother who never ceases to love her children or to want to be part of their lives.
His love for us, he said, lasts forever, and generates an “an infinite circuit of love.” Thus, when we pray, we must do so with the trust of a child in his father.
The word “Father”
Pope Francis pointed out that even those who feel they have sinned, or taken the wrong path have a father who loves them. It is to the Father we must always turn, and He will always answer: “Never forget to say ‘Father’!”
Pope Francis explained that even the earliest Christians, guided by the Holy Spirit, prayed using the Aramaic word for “Father” – Abba – that Jesus himself had used.
The New Testament prayer, he continued, seems to want to “get to the essential”, to the point of concentrating precisely on the word: “Abba, Father”: “at the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, we hear an echo of the voice of Jesus himself” who teaches the Disciples that to pray is to share in his own intimate and trusting relationship with the Father.
In fact, after having known Jesus and listened to his preaching, the Pope said Christians no longer considered God as a tyrant to be feared, they were no longer afraid of him, but felt at ease in calling the Creator “Father.”
A child’s relationship with his father
Pope Francis also reflected on how it is not only a question of using a symbol, the figure of the father “to be linked to the mystery of God”, but of having “Jesus’ world decanted into one’s own heart” Saying “Abba,” he explained, is something much more “intimate, more moving” than simply calling God “Father.”
And he invited the faithful to pray to the Father with the heart of a child: “a child who is completely wrapped in the embrace of a father who feels infinite tenderness for him or for her.”
Words that come to life
The Pope continued his reflection speaking about how the Lord’s prayer takes on “meaning and colour” if we learn to pray after reading the passage of the merciful father, as told by Luke in the parable of the prodigal son.
The prodigal son, he explained was embraced by the father “who had waited a long time,” “who did not remember the offensive words” addressed to him, but who made it quite clear “how much he had missed him.”
God, the Father he said, knows no hatred, no revenge, no anger, he knows only love.
The Pope said that in that parable, the father expresses his love in a ‘maternal’ way, “like a mother who apologises to her children, who covers up for them, who wants to be part of their lives” even when the child has distanced her or himself from her.
Even in the most difficult times in our lives, Pope Francis concluded, may we never be afraid to turn in trust and confidence to the Father, praying in the words that Jesus taught us: “Abba”, “Our Father”.
With thanks to Vatican News and Linda Bordoni, where this article originally appeared.