Abba, Father

July 23, 2013

And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mark 14:36)

Digital oil painting by Barb from photo by Michelle M. from

Digital oil painting by Barb from photo by Michelle M. from

“Abba”, that beautiful Aramaic word spoken by a baby as his first word for “father”, has an equivalent in every language. In English it is “daddy”. In Korean it is “Appa”. In Italian, “babbino”, “papá”, “papino”. In all languages it expresses childlike innocence, trust, intimacy, and affection. In pre-Christian times “Abba” grew from solely a baby’s expression to mean “dear father”, an expression grown children would use to address their fathers.

When Jesus cried out these words during His agony in the garden, He spoke for all mankind, first as a Jew and secondly as a Gentile, as Mark wrote first the Aramaic word and then the Greek for “father”. Abba is for all of us. St. Paul reminds us of this in Romans 8:15:

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.

By this we know that Jesus means for all of us to have that same relationship with His Father that He does, the child with the strong and loving protector and provider who watches over us with the greatest of care. This is His will for us.

Two things follow from this:

  1. Not developing this child-with-daddy loving relationship is contrary to God’s will, and
  2. Having this relationship means docility and surrender on our part.

Maybe we need to refocus on our relationship with the Father. Perhaps we might ask ourselves:

  • How often do our lives seem to spin out of control?
  • Are we just giving up and giving in to the pressures of this world or others because that is all we see at the moment?
  • Have we taken ourselves out from under the strong wings of our Abba and are acting as if everything depends on us, not giving Him a second thought?
  • Have we forgotten that our destiny is heaven and become caught up in daily struggles as if now is the only place we will ever be and our personal power is all there is?
  • Do we walk in constant fear of those we perceive as being stronger than we, forgetting that our Abba is the strongest of all?
  • Do we expect to understand everything about what is happening to us right now, or are we willing to wait in serenity until God sees fit to show us?
  • Do we understand that we must be patient with Him, trusting Him to place everything in order in His time for our good and the good of others?
  • Do we recognize His mercy in our lives? When will we learn to say to God, “I don’t get it Lord, but I’ll follow You anyway.”?

Because Jesus told us to address His Father the same as He, “Abba, Father” we can accept the words beautifully written by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene from Divine Intimacy meditation #249:

Our hope, our confidence in God can never be excessive or exaggerated, because it is founded on God’s mercy which has no limits.  If we sincerely try to do everything we can to please God, we need not fear that our hope in Him can be too great.  His helpful power and His desire for our good, for our sanctification, infinitely exceed our most ardent hopes. This blind, unlimited hope is so pleasing to God that the more hope we have, the more He overwhelms us with favors: “the more the soul hopes, the more it attains” (J.C. AS III, 7,2).

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, making this thought her own said: “We can never have too much confidence in the good God who is so powerful and so merciful. We obtain from Him as much as we hope for” (St, 12).

Let us not, then, hide behind an excuse that our earthly fathers have been absent or disappointing, perhaps cruel and neglectful, and so we must live as if we are victims making excuses for our sins and abuse of ourselves and others. Instead, let us claim what Jesus has given us, what He intends for us: sonship with the perfect Father in an eternal happiness that does not have to wait for death, but that we can begin here and now in this world, step by wobbly step as a child of our Abba.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 hope, spirituality

1 Comment to Abba, Father

  1. Beautiful. When I first learned what Abba meant, I immediately say God as my Father, my daddy. And it changed my whole idea of who God was.I often use Abba as a prayer word.
    Love that quote from St Therese too. Her confidence helped me to gain confidence in God as well.
    God bless!

  2. colleen on July 28th, 2013


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