ROME – Reflecting on when Jesus taught the apostles how to say the “Our Father” in the gospel according to Luke, Pope Francis said on Wednesday that Christian prayer is characterized by having the courage to call God by the name of “Father.”
“Calling God by the name ‘Father’ is not something that can be taken for granted,” the pope said during his general audience June 7. “We are tempted to use the highest titles, which are respectful of his transcendence. But calling him ‘Father’ puts us in His confidence, like a child talking to his dad, knowing that he is loved and cared for by him.”
The pope underlined that even at Mass, when the priest calls the faithful gathered to pray the “Our Father,” he uses the words “we dare to say.” This is the great revolution brought forth by Christianity to man’s religious psychology, the pope added.
“The mystery of God, which has always fascinated us and made us feel small, doesn’t scare us anymore, it doesn’t pressure us or anguish us,” the pope told the crowd of 15,000 people gathered at St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis quoted the parable of the merciful father, who not only loves his children above all else but also is willing to give his son his inheritance and allow him to leave home. God is not a father in the “human sense,” the pope said, for no human father would stand for such arrogance from a son.
“God is a Father in his own way: good, helpless before man’s free will, only able to conjugate the verb ‘to love’,” Pope Francis said. “God is a father who does not apply human justice and is ready to forgive and embrace his long lost son.”
The pope reminded those gathered that this unconditional love is unfathomable and even the apostle Paul did not translate in Greek the Aramaic term “abbà,” which some interpret to mean “daddy” or “papa.”
“We are never alone,” Pope Francis said. “We can be distant, hostile, we can even declare ourselves ‘without God.’ But the Gospel of Jesus Christ reveals that God cannot be without us: He will never be a God ‘without man’.”
When we pray the “Our Father” we reinforce our hope, the pope said, and when we need help we can speak to the Lord “who always watches us with love, and who surely won’t abandon us.”
The pope concluded the audience by sending his blessing to young people, the sick and recently married couples. He emphasized that this month faithful are called to the devotion of the Sacred Heart and reminded them that June 8 there will be the prayer “A minute for peace” to remember the meeting between the pope, the former president of Israel, Shimon Peres and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican.
“These days there is much need to pray – Christians, Jews and Muslims – for peace,” the pope said.