You “know” that you are loved by God. You know it in the same way that you know grass is green, and water is wet, and you should eat plenty of green leafy vegetables. It’s a message that’s been ingrained, and yet somehow, it’s kind of…. well, dare I say, boring? Not that it’s unimportant, but it’s so easy to regard it as so much religious jargon, or just accept that as fact, and go on with your life.
That’s what was really cool about Abba’s Heart, the new book by Neal Lozano with Matthew Lozano. Lozano is a story-teller: He recounts modern-day parables that will capture your heart and bring tears to your eyes, and then he surprises you with a revelation: God’s like that!
When he wants to teach about our role as God’s adopted sons, he describes going, as a young boy of ten, to see the movie “Ben Hur.” Quintas Arrius adopted the slave Ben-Hur as his legal heir, after Ben-Hur rescued him from certain death. So is anyone who receives Jesus an adopted heir of God (our Abba Father), not a slave.
And when he wants to teach about spiritual slavery, he recounts a story from his own family, in which his five-year-old son feels emotionally estranged from his dad during a period of stress. He sees a relationship to the Gospel story about the happy homecoming of the prodigal son. “We are similar to the little boy Matt,” he explains.
“We are lost and the heavenly Father is hidden from us, as if we are in a distant land. A veil hides our vision of the Father. There are two things to know about this veil: It does not come from God, and it never causes his love for us to die….”
Chapter after chapter, Lozano unveils the Father. He shows him as an intimate Lover, the one who waits eagerly for our visit, ready to welcome us, to comfort us, to be our guide.
The title “Abba,” you may remember, is an Aramaic word that can be translated as “Daddy.” It differs from the more formal and imposing title “Father.” During the time of Christ, “Abba” was an intimate title which a child might use to address his father, and it signified the close relationship of a father to his child, as well as the child-like trust of a child for the man who heads his family.
Jesus called God the Father “Abba”–and he taught us to regard him as a lavishly loving parent as well. That is no small thing. Lozano’s stories made me see that, helped me to realize my Abba’s closeness.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, archbishop of Philadelphia, said of the book,
“This is the kind of book anyone searching for God should read: clear in its writing, simple in its message, strong in its appeal. The Lozanos have written a powerful invitation to know God as our Father, to experience His fatherly love and to witness that love to others in our everyday lives. And they’ve done it all with uncommon substance and skill.”
Abba’s Heart: Finding Our Way Back to the Father’s Delight is available in your local Catholic bookstore or here. I know you’ll enjoy it.