12th Sunday Ordinary Time A “God the Father”

Description :
Preached June 19, 2005 (Father’s Day) at St. Joseph Church Woonsocket. On God the Father.
“Not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.” 

As today is Father’s Day, I thought I would give a homily on God the Father.

We Christians are really unique among major world religions, in that our preferred name for God is “the Father”.

Followers of Islam worship the same God as we do. But Moslems never call God “Father” — God for them is Allah, “The One who is worthy of all worship.”

Even the Jewish religion rarely refers to God as Father. An interesting experiment is to take your Bible and search through the Old Testament for passages where God is called “Father”. You’ll probably give up after about 15 minutes because in over 900 pages of Old Testament, God is called “Father” only about 4 times.

For the Jews, God’s name is spelt YaHWeH, meaning “The One who Is.” That name of God is so Holy the Jews feel it is sinful for a human to pronounce it, so they say “Adonai” or “Lord” in place of His name whenever its written in Sacred Scripture. (Actually in most Catholic Bibles, the word LORD in capital letters is written in place of Yahweh out of reverence for God’s name in the Old Testament).

So the Moslems worship Allah, the Jews Adonai, but we Christians worship the Father. We believe that Father is the best name for God, that Father most fully reveals who God is.

Now, some people think that in our Modern World the Church should shy away from calling God “Father” as that’s very sexist and chauvinistic.

But before we do that, who began this business of calling God “Father” anyway? Well, Jesus did! And He specifically told His disciples to call God “our Father.” And while we do believe that men and women are equal in dignity and are both created in God’s image, we also believe in the mystery of God the Father.

And all of the 27 Books of the New Testament except for the 3rd Letter of John refer to God as “Father”.

To throw out or downplay that name for God would be to throw out and downplay the example and command of Jesus and the New Testament writings.

If we look at those many New Testament passages which refer to God as Father, there are two interesting things about them.

First, the Bible doesn’t say God is like a Father, but that God is Father. In contrast, on at least two occasions, the Bible says that God is like a Mother. But it never says that God is Mother. (If you think about that hard enough though, it looks like it means that mothers are naturally like God, while we fathers really need to work at it!)

Secondly, Scripture makes crystal clear that Jesus has a different relationship to the Father than the rest of us. He says to Mary Magdalen “I am ascending to my Father and your Father” not “I am ascending to our Father.”

He also says “whoever acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Heavenly Father” not “before our Heavenly Father” but “before my Heavenly Father.”

And He says “when you pray, say ‘Our Father who art in Heaven'”, not “when we pray, we should say ‘Our Father who art in Heaven'”

That is because God is really Jesus’ Father, He is the Son of God, begotten from all eternity by the Father. “He who sees me sees the Father” says Jesus.

On the other hand, God is our Father only by adoption. In Baptism we ceased being children of Adam and became adopted children of God. Which means we reflect God the Father’s image only if we choose to turn away from the sinful ways of our father Adam and turn towards Jesus the new Adam.

So we here present who are fathers need to model ourselves after God the Father.

By the way, God is not the only father Jesus speaks about in Scripture. He also teaches us that Satan is a father as well. Jesus calls Satan the “father of lies” and father of the Pharisees. We fathers certainly don’t want to imitate that daddy!

May we rather be like the Father Jeremiah describes God as being in the first Reading: “The LORD, (My Father), is with me, like a mighty champion: those who persecute me will not triumph. . . .The LORD (My Father) rescues the life of the poor”

And may each one of us baptized children of God fear no one or no thing in this world, because Jesus our Brother tells us that our souls and bodies and even every hair on our head is precious and constantly cared for by our good and loving Father in Heaven.

Comments are closed.