Relating personally with God as Father
January 12, 2003

Al Cariño
Reproduced with Permission

The mystery that is Jesus the Son of God is revealed to us in the beginning in three stages. First, His birth as announced to the shepherds by the angels. Second, His epiphany, when the infant Jesus revealed Himself to the nations through the Magi or Wise Men. Third, His baptism when God the Father publicly acknowledged Jesus as His Son.

The gospel reading (Mk. 1:7-11) talks about this third stage, the baptism of Jesus by John in the river Jordan. Mark says that as Jesus was coming out of the water after His baptism, He saw the heavens being opened and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. Then a voice coming from the heavens was heard: "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

Jesus' baptism marks a significant moment for Him as well as for us. For Jesus, it marked His call to mission by the Father, a mission which He would not carry out alone but always with and through the Spirit. For us, it signifies the end of the time for waiting for the new era of salvation when God the Father would reach out to us through the person of His Son.

With the start of Jesus' mission after His baptism, it will be helpful to know how He related with God the Father. There is no doubt at all that the Father defines Jesus' life, is the center of His life. Everything that He did was from and for His Father. For Him there was only the Father and nothing else.

If we go over the gospels, we will easily find instances which show that Jesus' life is really centered on the Father. What follows are just a few:

* When He was lost and later found in the temple by his parents, He told them: "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?"

* Before the last supper, to Philip's remark, "Show us the Father and that will be enough for us" Jesus replied, "Philip, after I have been with you all this time, you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father."

* During the agony in the garden, Jesus, asking God to spare Him the suffering and death ahead of Him, prayed, "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will."

* Before Jesus expired on the Cross, His last words were, "Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit."

* Finally, among His last words to His disciples were, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" - in effect commissioning them to continue His Father's work which Jesus had began.

"Abba," which means "Father" or "My Father" or "Daddy" - the intimate way that a child calls his father - is how Jesus addressed God the Father. Scripture scholars tell us that Jesus made use of the word Abba or its equivalent 205 times. That is the only way that Jesus addressed God both in His prayers and in public. In fact, the Scribes and Pharisees considered Jesus' reference to God as His Father blasphemous. But He never denied it for that was how it truly was between Him and His Father.

The only exception that Jesus addressed the Father as "Our Father" was when He taught the apostles the only prayer He taught them, The Lord's Prayer. With it He taught them and us that in everything, they\we must glorify and call on God as our Father.

Before we pray the Our Father during the celebration of the Eucharist, we hear the priest preface it with the words, "Jesus taught us to call God our Father and so we dare to say". We can now dare to call God Father because Jesus has allowed us to do so when He made us His brothers and sisters by embracing our humanity. Thus for us to be able to call God our Father is a special privilege. We should use this privilege to the full.

The Spirit that empowered Jesus at the start of His mission and throughout His life is the same Spirit that we received at our baptism. At that time, though, our commitment was spoken for us by our parents and godparents. Thus the need to validate that commitment by our personal choices throughout life.

Along this line, it will be good to realize that because of our baptism, it has become possible for us to call God "Father" and "my Father." Perhaps our parents may already have taught us since childhood to pray to God thus. If so, thanks to them. If not, let us begin to do so now. Then we will be surprised that the power of the Father's love will draw us closer and more intimately to Him, thus allowing us to have a personal relationship with Him in the same manner that Jesus had.

Let it be our prayer that Jesus' placing of His Father at the center of His life may also be realized in us so that all that we think, say and do will be from and for God our Father.