The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
July 24th, 2022 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 11:1-13
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
Much of what we say to others is determined by how we view and judge them. If we are talking with a friend whom we have known and liked for many years, the words we share flow easily. If we are talking with someone we hardly know, we are likely to carefully measure our words.
Thus, when the disciples asked Jesus for a suggestion on how to pray to God, Jesus began by reminding them of God’s goodness and generosity. He wanted them to have the right idea of God and their relationship to God. And that would influence how they should address God in prayer. They knew it was a good idea to ask Jesus about this matter because they saw him as being very close to God. Even familiar. They had seen him pray and they were impressed.
Jesus responded to their request by first noting that it was very important to begin with addressing God by God’s right name. He reminded them of the name he used when addressing God. The word was, Abba, an Aramaic word in his native language, which is usually translated in our language as “Father.” But it had a special meaning, one that was not commonly used in religious circles during that time.
Ancient languages can be complex and often use more than one word for certain objects, especially as one as complex as the word for “God.” Some Asian religions have over a hundred words for God. The world in which Jesus lived used at least four languages, Aramaic, ancient Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Thus, there were many words for “God.”
But the word usen by Jesus, Abba, carried a special meaning of “father.” Calling one’s father abba implied closeness, familiarity, trust, and most of all, affection and love. To address God as Abba would sound to some as much too familiar, even disrespectful.
But not to Jesus. He used that word in his prayer to God. And reinforced by the disciple’s question about prayer, we too are invited to do the same. The Lord’s Prayer should also be our prayer.
In that prayer we are also reminded that God wants to respond to our needs (daily bread) and most of all, forgive us when we do wrong. As we should do to those who wrong us. God was and is our loving creator, the giver of life.
©David M. Thomas, PhD