Even the enforced confinement can be an occasion to find the light of God the Father. This is what many young people from Asia experimented in the online Motus Christi, organized by Idente Missionaries. Young people eagerly listened to the spiritual reflection given by Fr.Luis Casasus, the general superior of men’s branch of Idente Missionaries. They also participated in the personal sharing that followed the reflection and asked several questions they had in their minds regarding their personal relation to God the Father.
Below given is the full text of Fr.Luis Casasus’s reflection:
Who is our heavenly Father…and what does He do?
- The presence of the Father.
Pope Benedict XVI, when speaking to the youth of the world in 2008, recalled that There are many Christians for whom the Holy Spirit remains the “great unknown”. We can surely say the same about our heavenly Father. On the contrary, most of us think that we know Christ better, because he is God made man and his life is reflected in the Gospels.
This means that our knowledge of the divine persons is rather rational, intellectual, similar to what we know about some historical character, because we know some aspects of his biography. However, today we are gathered in this retreat, which is called Motus Christi (Christ’s movement in my heart), to be more aware of what the activity of the divine persons is in our spirit. That is the true knowledge of the divine persons, the one that interests us in order to live a full life. In particular, we want to look at what our heavenly Father continually transmits to us.
Fernando Rielo, our Founder, speaks of the relationship with God as a Dialogue with Three Voices, which means that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, communicate with us each in a different way, with a style and a character that we can identify and enjoy.
It is true that Christ, in the Gospel, always refers to the Father and speaks of him, but we must also learn to notice his hand and his caress in the life of each one of us.
Generally, we imagine our heavenly Father as someone who has created the world, he is leaving it in place… and he is walking away. Someone who has also created us, and who awaits us at the end of our days on earth. But in the attitude and words of Jesus we see that he lives all the time with the Father and shares all things with him.
If we call him Father, it is because he has the personal characteristics of those who in this world are good fathers or good mothers. He is one whom Jesus recognizes as someone very close to Him and whom He tries to satisfy in everything.
There was something special in the way Jesus prayed The first disciples noticed that He was transformed every time He prayed, so they asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). That is also why our Father Founder tells us: True prayer is recognized in that, when it ceases, we are not the same. To respond to this need of the apostles to communicate fully with God, the Our Father came from the lips of Jesus.
Pope Benedict XVI says:
The problem for very many people today is that their experience of fatherhood is in many cases either completely absent or obscured by inadequate examples of fatherhood. We must therefore allow Jesus to teach us what father really means. For Jesus, father is the source of all good, the measure of perfection of all people (…) Christ fulfilled that love on the Cross by praying for his enemies. We call God “Father” because he is the source of all love, and in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus invites us to become children of this all-loving Father.
- The Our Father: His Will. In this prayer, we can find everything necessary for our personal contact with our heavenly Father. It is more than a set of phrases, petitions and praises. It is a true way to reach God the Father and to allow Him to reach us. In the words of Pope Francis:
The Our Father prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples is a short prayer with seven petitions, a number that in the Bible means fullness, plenitude. It is also a courageous prayer, because Jesus invites his disciples to leave behind their fear and to approach God with filial trust, calling him familiarly “Father” (Dec 12, 2018).
This humble attitude of Jesus, which invites us to accompany him in the patient discovery of the divine will, contrasts with our pride. If you allow me, I would share two phrases that I heard recently from two young men, that give an idea of how far our pride can go, not unlike that of the Pharisees.
- The first one said: My heavenly Father tells me that I must leave the vocation to the priesthood and explore other possibilities.
- And the second, with total certainty, affirmed: God tells me that now I must marry this young woman and not use the time in the mission that I was doing.
What is the center, the essence of the Lord’s Prayer? We can answer this question in many ways, but surely, what makes this prayer courageous, as the Pope says, is to ask that the Father’s will be done. Moreover, the request is formulated again, begging that his kingdom come.
It is not always easy for us to know the will of our heavenly Father. The reason is not that he hides it from us, but that our own will wants to prevail at all times. And we deceive ourselves, like the two young men who pretended to have heard the voice of our heavenly Father.
As a contrast, let us remember the words of Christ himself in the Passion:
Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done (Lk 22: 42).
The Gospel does not often echo the voice of the Father, but precisely when the Father speaks of Christ, He says: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased! (Mt 3: 17).
In simple terms: The Father manifests his will by engraving it in our hearts or through the Holy Spirit, who reminds us of it in many ways and Christ gives us a living example of how to make it a reality.
We said earlier that the Lord’s Prayer is really a way to go rather than just wonderful words we say. And indeed, discerning the will of our heavenly Father and fulfilling it where it concerns us is an accurate way of summing up our spiritual struggle.
This is very clear in the Parable that Jesus tells about the two sons whom his father asks to go to work in his vineyard (Mt 21:28-32).
Let us remember that the parable was addressed to the chief priests and elders and to those of us who are like them.
It would be dangerous to conclude from this parable that tax collectors and prostitutes were good and law doctors bad. What Christ tells us is that we are all sinners. The youngest son, the publicans and the prostitutes are also sinners, but after a while they are able to recognize the will of God, which was communicated to them by St. John the Baptist and which is beyond the observance of the law. The parable tells that the youngest son changed his mind, anticipating what Jesus himself would later say: Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.
Of course, Christ’s life was completely consistent with the Lord’s Prayer. His first apostolate was that of prayer, inviting the apostles to accompany him to the places where he withdrew to speak and, above all, to listen to his heavenly Father. Jesus is the revealer of the Father and He gives us intimacy with Him.
- The Our Father: His Mercy. Jesus used the parable of the Prodigal Son to help us understand the heart of the Father. Our heavenly Father has already given us the most precious gift, His one and only son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from the slavery of sin (Jn 3:16). In the Lord’s Prayer, Christ shows us how we are to trust in this mercy of the Father, begging for our daily bread, the forgiveness of our trespasses and deliverance from evil. Despite our making unwise choices in life and at times turning our backs on Him, God continues to remain faithful, patiently waiting for our return (2 Pet. 3:9).
These requests are not to convince our heavenly Father that He must continue being generous. That would be absurd and nonsense. What we are doing is assuring him that we open our hearts to his mercy, that we welcome it with joy and seriously, which involves two things: first, my personal willingness to change, and second, making every effort to imitate his mercy, which is to follow Jesus’ explicit advice: Be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
In prayers such as the Rosary or the Trisagio, we repeat the Our Father several times. Why do we do it this way? Wouldn’t it be enough to do it once? In fact, it is not so that God the Father can hear us better, but to help our poor memory and our weak will. Those words remind us that we are intimately making a pact with God the Father, that we are committing ourselves to respond to his patience and forgiveness, that I promise to be merciful, despite the many times I have not been.
At the same time, while I am praying, I bring to mind the occasions when I have been forgiven. Not only of some striking and serious fault, but of my distractions, my mediocrity and my daily betrayals. The Father’s response is clear: he does not take away my faith, but on the contrary, through the Holy Spirit, with his gifts, he strengthens my faith, hope and charity. This experience of His mercy, these gifts already received, we must keep them in mind in the Our Father when we say: Forgive us our trespasses.
There is only one Beatitude where the promise is the same as the condition: those who are merciful will be shown mercy. The more we understand how much mercy we have received, the more we will give to others; and the more mercy we show, the more mercy we get. In so doing, we complete the circle.
To penetrate into the mystery of God, the Muslims have the Koran, from which they derive the ninety-nine names of Allah; the hundreth remains unspeakable, because man cannot understand all of God. Christ reveals to us the identity of God the Father through the word mercy.
The mercy of God the Father is not limited to leaving us unpunished, but gives us the greatest proof of love, sending his Son to redeem us and also allows us to participate with him in the redemption of others. No human logic can account for this, only the fact that we are his children can explain it. Saint Paul came to understand just how deep is the mercy of God in calling him to preach the Gospel in spite of being a persecutor of believers. Jesus Christ embodies this mercy, which has nothing to do with paternalism and which presupposes a degree of trust that is not of this world: I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me (Jn 20: 21).
We could conclude by saying that the Our Father unites the request we make for mercy with the promise to extend it to others, which is the way to do the Father’s will.
Moreover, because it is a prayer of Jesus himself, it is a model of prayer, of our intimate state of prayer, which should then include: praise (thanksgiving), commitment to action for the kingdom, request for forgiveness, and supplication not to fall into temptation.
Three Points for Personal Reflection.
- Do I believe that our heavenly Father reveals his will to me through the pain and aspirations of my neighbor?
- Let’s not talk about big offenses now. What are the other people’ issues that I find hard to forgive?
- Try to remember a time where I truly betrayed God and He forgave me by keeping my faith in spite of it all.
Fr.Luis CASASUS M.Id
Motus Christi April 25, 2020