October 12, 2020
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Your Father

The term your Father (Πατρί σου in Greek) in the Matthean Gospel is replete with deep wisdom on who is Our Father in Heaven.

Thus, in Matthew 5:16 Our Father receives His glory from you and me whenever we commit good works in front of others. Thus, our good works become for them our light to them; in other words, they motivate them to thank Our Father in Heaven. Twenty-nine verses down, precisely in Matthew 5:45, the phrase your Father suggests that we ought to love our enemies and pray for them who persecute us so as to be sons of Our Father in Heaven who makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends His rain on those who are just and unjust.

In the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 6), Our Father is definitely someone whom we cannot fool! He knows our most intimate and hidden intentions! Hence, our piety has to be genuine and not a slave to other people’s approval since such a behavior will leave us with no reward from [] Our Father who is in heaven (Matt 6:1). On the other hand, Our Father immensely appreciates alms given in secret (Matt 6:4) simply because He sees in secret and will reward accordingly (Matt 6:4). And the same thing about Him holds also true when it comes to prayer. He is determinedly not impressed with the paraphernalia of words that we might address to Him during our prayer. His main preoccupation is to help us locate where our heart truly is and then to guide us to move in that direction! Thus, Jesus encourages us to create all sorts of preparations that might ultimately work in our favor to get in touch with Our Father in the deepest interiority and intimacy of our hearts. He says: But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matt 6:6). How encouraging is this fact that Our Father will reward us for making time for Him, for showing Him that we care for Him, for being intimate with Him in the silence of our being!

In Matthew 6:8, the phrase your Father shows us a God who knows already what we, His beloved children, are going to ask Him when we pray. Hence, there is no point in loosing ourselves or deteriorating our Spirit-given faith, by sorely heaping our prayer with empty phrases as the Gentiles do (Matt 6:7). As regarding praying to Our Father, the little we say the better provided there is the trust in what is being prayed about. The same chapter, in verse 15, reminds us that Our Father behaves with us the way we choose to behave with others, especially with those who hurt us. If we forgive He will forgive us. If we opt for not forgiving He would certainly be unable to forgive us in return. Thus, for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt 6:14-15). Matthew 6 emphasizes the point that Our Father rewards that fasting which is being done in secret and solely for His glory. That is why Jesus highly accentuates this crucial stance when He says: But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matt 6:17-18).

Then, in the next chapter, the first evangelist drives home the point that every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Matt 7:8). In order for him to underline this position he presents Jesus underscoring that if you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matt 7:11). The phrase your Father, in Matthew 10, takes the tune of protection in times of persecution. Jesus clearly says to us, his disciples: When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matt 10:19-20). The Father’s protection is highly stressed in chapter 10 when Jesus says that if your Father takes care of two sparrows which are sold with the cheap price of a penny how much more your Father will take care of us, when we are persecuted? Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows (Matt 10:29-31).

Matthew chapter 23 verse 9 shows us that Our Father in Heaven is the real Father we do really have. When speaking to the crowds as well as to his disciples, Jesus is telling them to be different from the scribes and Pharisees who are hypocrites and blind. The secret of this difference lies in the acknowledgment that they have one Father, who is in heaven (Matt 23:9). Consequently, call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven (Matt 23:9).

My point is that textual analysis of the Bible builds within us a profound relationship with Our Father in Heaven. How beautiful it is to know that Our Father’s Name is exalted when we do good deeds in front of others! That He expects us to forgive as He forgives us! That He sees our heart’s intention and not what glares for the human erring eyes! That He knows already what we are going to ask Him before we actually do! That He provides us what is really good for us! That He is our defender when we are persecuted for His Son, Jesus Christ’s, sake! That He unfailingly cares for our daily needs!

For all these reasons we are to call no one on earth as Our Father, save Him!

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Written by
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap