At the weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis spoke on “The Fatherhood of God: the Wellspring of our Hope.” He was continuing his series of catechetical instruction on “Christian Hope.”
Pope Francis’ catechesis focused on the Christian prayer par excellence, the Our Father. “The whole mystery of Christian prayer,” he said, “is summed up here, in having the courage to call God Father.”
The ability to call God Father, the Pope said, is not insignificant. It would be normal for humans to invoke God using the highest titles, on account of His infinite greatness; instead, the use of the word “Father” puts us “in a relationship of trust with Him, as a child who turns to his dad, knowing he is loved and cared for by him.” The mystery of God’s transcendence always fascinates us, and makes us feel small, but, he said, we are no longer afraid, we do not feel crushed or anguished.
God is a Father, the Pope continued, but he is not like human fathers; instead, Jesus offers the parable of the prodigal son, where the father welcomes his child with forgiveness and love. That, he says, is perhaps why St Paul, when referring to this mystery, prefers not to translate the term “abba,” which is more intimate than father, and might better be translated as “papa” or “daddy.”
“Dear brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said, “we are never alone.” Even when we are distant or even hostile to God, even when we might claim to be “without God,” God the Father does not remain distant from us: “He will never be a God ‘without man.’” This providential plan of God is a great mystery. Whatever our needs, whatever our problems, the Pope reminded us that God is our Father, who is always watching over us with love, a Father who will never abandon us.
Pope Francis concluded the audience by asking those in St Peter’s Square to think about their necessities, their problems, and to turn to God in confidence and hope, before leading them in the recitation of the Our Father.