Living out “Our Father”
Reflections based on Sunday readings (24 July)
1st reading: Gn 18: 20–32
Gospel: Luke 11: 1–13
This Sunday is not the feast of Pentecost. But the gospel ends with that statement of Jesus on the gift of the Holy spirit. “If you then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” The point here is not to tell that you and me that we are evil, but that style of language or that contrast is used to speak of the surety of that assurance of the gift of Holy Spirit.
Whom we have to ask for this gift? It is none other than the father who gives the gift. But the gospel reading gives a very important qualification for that father — for the father of Jesus. In Greek, it says pater hēmōn whose literal translation is Father of us, or in our everyday language our father. We are praying for his kingdom to come; what is that kingdom? Paul in the letter to Romans says that kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Today’s readings are about the father, and his kingdom and his gift of the Spirit. This is our father, father of Jesus and l, but also father of us. There is no my father without an “our father”. A Christian can’t be an island. Our father is not only a statement about my relationship to father, but also to my brothers and sisters.
Probably the best illustration for this relationship is there in the first reading (Gn 18: 20–32). In the beginning of the 18th chapter of Genesis, we have Abraham welcoming three strangers and receiving the promise of a child in their old age; in today’s reading, Abraham is having a dialogue with God for the sake of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah. Their sin was lack of hospitality, whereas Abraham was extolled for his hospitality. We may see Abraham’s dialogue with God (First 50 men, then 45, 40 etc) as bargaining with God. But somehow that doesn’t make much sense to me. I see it as a beautiful expression of his relationship with God and his neighbour. In this incident, he really lives out the prayer — our father.
Do we see such expressions in our lives? Most of us are not perfect people, but I think such expressions do exist in our lives. In the times of tragedies, we see it very often. We pray to our father, intercede for others and help them in all possible ways. In the aftermath of Russian invasion in Ukraine, the responses of many Polish people were again an expression of our father. It is also evident, at least occasionally, in all our family, community, professional and social lives.
I strongly believe (some of you may disagree with me) that this lack of living out “our father” is one of the reasons that some of the Christians, and many youths don’t find faith meaningful. Their going-away is sometimes a prophetic call to us, to start living the “our father”.
I sense atleast two invitations:
1. To recognise and appreciate the various expressions of our father in our lives and that of others.
2. To make our lives more and more an expression of “our father” that our lives filled with Holy Spirit may be a life of the kingdom.