The Judeans sought to kill Jesus also because he “called God his own Father, making himself equal to God.” (John 5:18). Jesus had just said, “My Father is working right up to the present moment, and I am working too.” (John 5:17). Later, after his resurrection, Thomas will say plainly to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”
The Judeans were right in one sense. Jesus understood himself to be equal to God – because he is God. And His Apostles come to understand him this way also. The Judeans come to this accurate conclusion about Jesus’s self-understanding when they hear him refer to God as, “My father.”
Bear this in mind when you pray the Lord’s Prayer. We know that the Lord has taught us to call God “Our Father.” Both the similarities and the differences between this and the way Jesus addresses his Father are deeply significant.
First a difference: Jesus teaches us to call God, “Our Father.” Meanwhile, he calls God, “My Father.” The difference is in the plural versus the singular. God is our Father in as much as we are the Church, the body of Christ, which we never are all by ourselves. The Church is the community of all true believers. It is not us all on our own with our own ideas. We are baptized into Christ and clothed with Christ by the Church and in the Church. Inasmuch as we are made one with Jesus Christ by his grace, God is also our Father – because he is the Father of Jesus Christ, with whom we are one.
Let us think on this when we pray – I hope many times each day – to our Father. Lately, I have been praying the Our Father every time I wash my hands. And the Our Father is a part of the usual beginning to our prayer every evening and morning and also throughout the day.
Even those first two words – “Our Father” – contain infinite meaning for our contemplation. They are both a petition and the proclamation. A proclamation that we are living in Christ, the only Son of the Father. It is only in him that God is our Father. And a petition also that we grow in unity with Jesus Christ. Because when we say “Our Father,” we can’t help but remember that we’re not there yet, that we have growing to do, as the rest of the prayer makes clear.
And remember also that the audacity of these words were enough to make men seek to kill Jesus. We ought to be a bit shocked ourselves every time we say it. It proclaims nothing less than theosis – unity with God himself. It is a bold thing for us to say to God, “Our Father.” For Jesus to call God his Father was, as Thomas later recognizes in the light of the Resurrection, simply the truth.