God – Our Father


Anna is a 4-year old girl. Before she sleeps, she would ask her dad to read her favorite story: Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. So her dad would read it to her while she sits on his lap until she falls asleep. But after several months, her dad had an idea. He recorded the story on a cd and bought her a new cd player with the instruction to simply “press and play.”
But Anna resisted. She hated the idea.
“Why?” her dad asked. “Because I can no longer sit on your lap” she candidly said.
In today’s Gospel (Lk 11:1-13), we imagine Jesus praying so intently. He seem to be sitting on the “lap” of God His Father. Here we see Jesus as a man of faith; a man of prayer. Indeed, prayer is faith in action. Only a believer can truly pray. One who does not believe – it’s a waste of time.
The example of Jesus pushed the disciples to ask: “Lord, teach us how to pray.”
I would like to focus 3 things on the Prayer Jesus taught:
1.    Our Father:
Jesus reminds us that there is a God! Jesus makes it clear that God exists. For Jesus, God’s presence is a “given” which does not need proof with empirical evidence. He is as real as the sun that shines daily; as real as the air he breathes. He is caught up by the grandeur of God!
Moreover, He is His Father. Jesus calls Him “Abba” – an affectionate Aramaic expression. Among the words Jesus spoke, this one is among his original term. Only Jesus could dare to address God as “Abba” – his unique and tender way of communicating to God. It indicates his extraordinary closeness with God; his child-like recognition of unconditional trust; his willingness to obey and his unlimited surrender to His will.
Jesus tells us also that this God is in heaven. It is not a place but a “state.” God’s transcendental dwelling. In other words – Jesus clarifies that though God is loving and compassionate, He is no ordinary Being. He is up there – superior and separated from us mortals! Yet through Jesus we can also dare to call God – Abba!
 
2.    Holy be Your Name:
The ancient name of God, the 4-letters YHWH is never pronounced aloud by the Jews. In the bible, names are very important. It is not just a convenient label. But a name reveals the character and personality of a person. In the Jewish culture, to know a person’s name means one can have a certain “control” over the individual.
Jesus reveals that God’s name is holiest; most powerful. Thus to be held in utmost reverence. When Jesus teaches us that God’s name is holy, it also means 2 things:
a.     We desire also to be holy like God. We mirror God’s holiness in ourselves. We strive also to be God-like.
b.     Our life’s goal is to give glory to God in all things that we do.
3.    Your Kingdom Come:
The purpose of Jesus’ life is to bring God’s Kingdom here. His aim is remind people of the divine dimension of our life; that we prioritize the values of God and thus make the world “more godly.”
Today the challenge continues. Many times, it is our own kingdom, our own name that we build, not God’s. Pope Francis came out with a new encyclical (letter) for us Catholics entitled : Lumen Fidei which means “The Light of Faith.” Here, he mentions that “idols exists as a pretext for setting ourselves at the center of reality and worshipping the work of our own hands.” The danger is: we set ourselves as our own “idol” – we worship ourselves.
The pope is now in Rio de Janiero, Brazil for the World Youth Day 2013. The message he is telling the 1.5 million youth gathered is this: Help build the Kingdom of God! He said something “revolutionary” to them:
“What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses.. I want to see the Church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves in our parishes, schools or structures.. when the Church does not come out of itself to evangelize, it gets sick..”
He challenges the youth “to get the gospel message literally into the streets! He is also sharing this yearning to us – go and build God’s Kingdom!
So we pray: Lord, let it come!

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