Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Romans 8:12-17; Luke 13:10-17)
Jesuit Scripture scholar Joseph Fitzmyer has shown that the Aramaic word abba is not meant to say “daddy” as we once excitedly learned. Yet we should not become disillusioned. St. Paul may have reverted to the Aramaic word to indicate the esteem that many Jewish children, like himself and his siblings, feel for their fathers. Pious Jewish fathers, at least, are not playboys but providers who raise their children in faith and with love. Sons and daughters of such men fear them when they are small, but as they mature the fright dissolves into love and then into a respect bordering on awe.
Paul is saying that related to God, the same movement from fear to awe is implemented in us believers by the Holy Spirit. Certainly Paul has in mind something more than a change in psychological attitude toward God as the Spirit’s fruit here. He is saying that the Spirit establishes us God’s adopted daughters and sons capable of sacrifices, like that of Jesus, which gain for us access to everlasting life.