As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of
his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father”!
So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child
then also an heir, through God (Gal 4: 6-7)
If we take seriously the incarnation, along with the full divine “emptying out” it entails (Phil 2:7), we can wonder at how the child Jesus was nurtured in his Jewish faith. Given the culture of that time and place, where the child was first nurtured in the mother’s world and then initiated by the father into the world of men, Jesus most likely learned to pray in Mary’s lap.
It is not too great a speculative leap to conjecture that Jesus’ striking way of addressing the Creator with the intimate term Abba was also something he learned from his mother. What a powerful testimony to the power of a mother’s intimate moments with her child that Paul, decades later, could refer to that Abba-prayer as something the Gentile Christians of Galatia would recognize as their usual way of praying. Thinking of this may enrich our own recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.
Fr. Hamm is emeritus professor of the New Testament at Creighton University in Omaha. He has published articles in The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, The Journal Of Biblical Literature, Biblica, The Journal for the Study of the New Testament, America, Church; and a number of encyclopedia entries, as well as the book, The Beatitudes in Context
(Glazier, 1989), and three other books
Copyright © 2001, Dennis Hamm, SJ All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.
Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year
(A, B, and C).
This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go http://www.ltp.org