By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” — Matthew 6:9-10
Father’s Day is celebrated every Third Sunday of June. But I do hope Father’s Day is celebrated not only as an afterthought of Mother’s Day. I hope we have a Father’s Day in June not only because we have a Mother’s Day in May. As a matter of fact, every day should be a mother’s and father’s day. The Ten Commandments clearly estate, “Honor your father and mother so that you will live a long life on earth” (Ex. 20:12).
By the way, this commandment is not just for children, but also for adults in relation to their own fathers and mothers who are already senior citizens. Old people in the Israelite community are well respected because though they could no longer work they are repositories of wisdom to be shared to the next generations. They are important members of the family or the community because whenever there are problems and difficulties encountered they would consult the old people. Surely, they would know what would be the best decisions to be done, because they have gone through such experiences.
Scriptures, theology, and the church oftentimes address God as father and seldom (if at all) as mother. That’s why women theologians rightly accuse the church, scriptures and theology as patriarchal and androcentric. They would like to correct this patriarchal and androcentric view of God by emphasizing His feminine attributes, like being compassionate and loving.
Now, without minimizing the feminine dimensions of God’s divine and human attributes, let us reflect on the implications of our claim that God is indeed our Father as enshrined in the Scriptures and in the doctrines and creeds of the church.
God as our Father
Jesus Christ our Lord taught his disciples to pray addressing God as our Father. He said to them: “This is how you pray, ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’” (Matthew 6:9-10).
Even Jesus Christ our Lord himself addressed God as his Father. In his famous prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, he said: “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your Son, so that the Son may give glory to you.” (Jn. 17:1). The baptismal formula as well as the Trinitarian doctrine developed in the Early Church and in the Medieval Period also address God as Father.
However, there are Christians who would find it quite difficult to call God as Father, simply because of their bad experiences with their own father. For instance, the great Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, could not call God as father, because he happened to have a very strict, disciplinarian father, whom he could not agree with. His understanding of God as father is determined somehow by his experiences with his own father.
Implications to the Christian life
But what does it mean to call God our Father? I would like to mention at least three implications to the Christian life: First of all, to call God our Father would mean that we are all brothers and sisters in His Name. Therefore, all human barriers, divisions, and conflicts must be transcended and overcome. Paraphrasing John’s Letter, those who claim God as our Father, yet could not love their fellow human beings as their own brothers or sisters are liars (cf. I John 4).
Secondly, to call God our Father would also mean to be close to God. Closeness to God could be developed by constantly communicating with God in prayer and by seriously reading and studying the Scriptures until such time that God’s will becomes our will and God’s thoughts and ways become our own. Thus, Jesus Christ, our Lord said, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” (Jn.14:11). The will of the Father has become the will of the Son.
And thirdly, to call God our Father is to recognize Him as the giver and sustainer of our life. As a father, God is someone who cares for us. This is the theological foundation of fatherhood. Hence, to be a father to our children like God our Father is to give and sustain life, to love and care for our children and the rest of the human family.
Happy Father’s Day! # nordis.net