Thursday 18 June 2020

Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Word for today 
The Gospel of Matthew 6:7-15


Jesus addresses Elohim with the Aramaic word Abbà, invocation defined as ipsissima vox Jesu [the very voice of Jesus]. Abbà in Aramaic is the emphatic form of the noun av; all other forms are built on this one. Previous to the New Testament forms such as Avì, “My Father,” Avùna, “Our Father,” can be found but never Abbà as it is transliterated in Greek and it appears for the first time in Mark 14: 36, the first evidence of that word in that grammatical form. 
Etymologically abbà comes from an infant's babbling noises. It was used by children to say "daddy" and it represents the sweet, loving word a Semite who speaks Aramaic would use to address a guest, a dear friend, a trustworthy servant. It is an expression of tenderness and trust, of complete intimacy, an expression of honor.  Avùn, "Our father," is a sign of intimacy,  like saying "Our Daddy." What an extraordinary novelty to hear God being invoked as Abbà, My Father, Our Father!  God was called Elohìm, the God who created heaven and earth, the fathers' God, Israel's God; God, the Lord, translation of YHWH, unpronunceable Tetragrammaton, has become Father, with a completely new connotation. In the Semitic languages av/ab  is the person who generates, and the son who is generated will always be called bar, “son to a father.” In Hebrew this was not a completely new or isolated meaning in that God used to address His people as son/sons: many psalms describe situations in which God expresses His love for His children. God, thus, has always manifested himself as a loving father, but the concept of God as a father is not a central issue in Hebrew culture and, in any case, it is a fatherhood that is often severe and restricted to the children of Israel or a fatherhood tied to the concept of a Master or a guarantor of the universe. In this perspective we can say that the expression Father used by human beings to address God becomes with Jesus a completely new experience, because the relationship that Jesus showed us that he had with the Highest, Elohìm was absolutely new. If we could gather in a single point the sound, the known and unknown energy, the bright light shinng from all the stars in all the galaxies of the entire universe; if we could gather in that single point the sound and the singing of the endless hosts of angels and heavenly souls who are and have been singing to God the Highest; if we could gather in that single point all the songs of birds in every corner of the earth, together with the sound and energy of all the natural forces and of all the animals that are living and have been living on earth during the entire history of the planet; if we could concentrate in one single point all the energy, the light, the power, the sound of the entire visible and invisible creation, that point of fathomless power and light would seem like candlelight if compared to the sun, if compared to the point of light and power released from the sound of the word that Jesus used that day to talk with his Father in that hidden corner of Israel: Avùn, “Our Dad.”
Since that day when Jesus said the word Avùn, Dad, every other word, every other relationship between man and God, every other divine name, every other religious affiliation have been exceeded and overshadowed. Avùn is the sound that opens a loving pathway towards God never revealed before, never walked before. It is the sound which completes every other biblical revelation, which erases every distance, overcomes any reluctance, melts any ignorance. Jesus not only offers a new name for God, but he reveals who God is, who God has always been, who God will always be for us, Avùn, Dad. It is a point of light which offers no way back, a point we cannot ignore. Avùn has revealed himself, now it is our turn to choose who we want to be for Him. Praying and knowing God as our father is not a quuestion that must open new theological questions or a new emotional spirituality; it is rather the reality, the unique reality, the only reality that exists and makes everything exist. God is Almighty, He is Eternal, He is the Creator, but Jesus revealed that God is first of all and above all Avùn. Jesus then adds to his invocation two words which are so extraordinarily distant yet amazingly complementary. He adds Our and in heaven. Our means that God is father equally to all men without any distinction. Our erases in a second every distinction individuals have made along the path of human history with regard to the dignity and nobility of each man, and, finally, it indicates that every distinction and disparity is only and always will be fruit of a deep satanic perversion which goes against God and humanity. Our also means that even if a man is able to transmit life to other men, he is father to no one, and that, even if generated by other men, individuals have no other Father besides God which makes us all brothers in the same family. It is Avùn because we belong to Him and in some way, He belongs to us, He lives and resides in perfect unity in all of us, but at the same time He is  Avùn who is in heaven, indicating his absolute trascendence compared to everything that which has been created, because He is Spirit.

Note for the reader:
This reflection was taken from the book Shiloh by Paolo Spoladore, Usiogope Ed., Venice, 2009, pp. 256-258.