by Ken Rolheiser
Our Daddy who art in heaven

In a homily “Daddy in Heaven” Father Brendan McGuire says, “How we see God will determine our relationship with God.” He goes on to explain, “Jesus wants us to think of God as Daddy, not as father, as Daddy.” 

To illustrate the difference he poses two expressions:
"Wait till your father gets home,"
"Oh, Daddy is almost home."

Jesus gives us images of the Father’s love, like the Father in the Prodigal Son story who watches the road day after day, waiting, seeking. When He sees the sinner son returning, he rushes out to meet him and slaughters the fatted calf.

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells us we are the sheep and our heavenly Father loves us so much that he would leave the flock of ninety-nine and go after you or me. He does not want to lose even one of his sheep. Imagine his joy if we, in our lost state, were to cry out: “Daddy! Here I am. Come and get me!”

God loves us, personally. He is a Father who is in touch with our daily concerns. Jesus gave us Abba, Daddy! God is as close to us as we are to our children or grand children.

I remember occasions when I would sit and visit with a grandchild. I would ask questions and converse. One grand daughter stole my heart when she said, “Grandpa, let’s just talk.” All we need to do is to take the time, occasionally, to sit and visit with God, Abba to son or daughter.

In times of trial we can call out to Abba. I still choke with emotion when I think of a saintly aunt of mine, an Elizabethan nun at Humboldt, Saskatchewan, dying of cancer. Like the nun crying out in the storm in Hopkin’s “The Wreck of the Deutschland”, in her last hours she repeatedly cried out, “Come, Jesus, come and get Sister Zita Rolheiser!”

There is no possible way God could have ignored that repeated plea. She knew about the love of the heavenly Father. She was ready to let her life reflect that fact. Most of us are close enough to God that a CTV program a few years ago said 51% of Canadians say they experience God.

As creature to Creator we often fear God’s punishment. But God spoke about that centuries ago through Isaiah: “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you…my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed…you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you” (Isaiah 54:3-14).

One of the most consoling passages in scripture that I keep coming back to and that I have inscribed on a plaque hanging in the entrance of my home is: “Fürhte dich nich den ich habe dich erlöst”.

The more complete text says:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

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