Christians are able to address God directly as 'Father', says Pontiff
Christians do not pray to a remote “cosmic god” but to the God who is our Father, Pope Francis said at Mass this morning.
Commenting on today’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus teaches his disciples to pray the Our Father, the Pope said: “To whom do I pray? To the Almighty God? He is too far off. Ah, I can’t hear Him. Neither did Jesus. To whom do I pray? To a cosmic god? That’s quite normal these days, is it not?… praying to the cosmic god, right? This polytheistic model that comes from a rather light culture.
“You must pray to the Father! It is a strong word, ‘Father’. You must pray to Him who generated you, who gave you life. Not to everyone: everyone is too anonymous. To you. To me. To the person who accompanies you on your journey: He knows all about your life. Everything: what is good and what is not so good. He knows everything. If we do not start the prayer with this word, not just with our lips but with our hearts, we cannot pray in a Christian language.”
According to Vatican Radio, he added: “We have a Father. Very close to us, eh! Who embraces us… All these worries, concerns that we have, let’s leave them to the Father, He knows what we need. But, Father, what? My father? No: our Father! Because I am not an only child, none of us are, and if I cannot be a brother, I can hardly become a child of the Father, because He is a Father to all. Mine, sure, but also of others, of my brothers. And if I am not at peace with my brothers, I cannot say ‘Father’ to Him.”
He reminded the congregation in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, that Jesus taught that unless we forgive others God the Father will not forgive us.
“No, you cannot pray with enemies in your heart, with brothers and enemies in your heart, you cannot pray,” he said. “This is difficult, yes, it is difficult, not easy. ‘Father, I cannot say Father, I cannot.’ It’s true, I understand. ‘I cannot say ‘our’, because he did this to me and this…’ I cannot! ‘They must go to hell, right? I will have nothing to do with them.’ It’s true, it is not easy. But Jesus has promised us the Holy Spirit: it is He who teaches us, from within, from the heart, how to say ‘Father’ and how to say ‘our’. Today we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to say ‘Father’ and to be able to say ‘our’, and thus make peace with all our enemies.”