Imagine for a moment praying the Lord’s Prayer and saying the words, “Our daddy who art in heaven” instead of what we are accustomed and comfortable with, “Our Father who art in heaven”.
To use the word ‘daddy’ when praying in private is one thing but to publicly proclaim it is another matter entirely. Most of us would shy away from any suggestion of using it during Mass. We would feel slightly ridiculous as adults but even young children many of whom would call their own fathers daddy would I imagine feel slightly awkward.
However, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, this is exactly what he did: he used the words ‘Abba’, ‘daddy’ in addressing the all powerful God and creator of the universe. He did this of course – and this is what so many including his followers struggled with – because he was and is God’s Son and God was and is his Father.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit have a deep and profoundly loving relationship and the good news is that it’s not exclusive. We are invited to enter into what they intimately share with one another. The Son came that we might become adopted sons and daughters, and receive life and have it to the full. This is what he was born for, lived for and died for and the Holy Spirit is actively carrying on this work in the Church and beyond it. Can we afford to ignore this generous invitation?
When we experience the tender love of Abba Father we can’t but help love him in return, and as a consequence of this we are more disposed to love others no matter what the cost.
As Henri Nouwen once said, ‘The God who loves us is a God who becomes vulnerable, dependent in the manger and dependent on the cross, a God who is basically saying, “Are you there for me?” God, you could say is waiting for an answer. In a very mysterious way, God is dependent on us. God is saying, I want to be vulnerable, I need your love, I have a desire for your affirmation.” He goes onto explain that this is why Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?”
We have an almighty God who is perfect and lacking nothing who has made it so that he desires and needs our love, who wants us to call out to him and know him intimately as Abba, as Daddy. We may shy away from proclaiming this in church but there’s nothing stopping us from crying out this word from the depths of our hearts.