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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ricky Baker and Our Father



A film came out of New Zealand recently called “The Hunt for the Wilderpeople”. It’s a comedy. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it by telling you that Ricky Baker is the main character. He’s a 13 year old kid in foster care. He calls himself a “gangster” and names his dog “Tupac”. At the beginning of the movie, he’s adopted by a couple named Bella and Hec. Some crazy stuff happens so that Ricky and his foster father Hec find themselves on the run - on the run from the police but also from Ricky’s former social worker, whose name is Paula. Paula goes on the national morning show to tell the public who they should be on the lookout for. Basically she tells the public, this is how you can know its Ricky: 

“We’re talking … disobedience. Stealing. Spitting. Running away. Throwing rocks. Kicking stuff. Defacing stuff. Burning stuff. Loitering. And graffiti-ing. And that’s just the stuff we know about.”

And based on those actions, do you know how she describes Ricky? 

Paula calls Ricky “a real bad egg.” 

But probably a better description of Ricky Baker based on those actions is simply “orphan.” He’s a son living without the anchor of his Dad.

In the 11th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, just before he teaches the disciples how to pray, we see Jesus praying. And if you were to describe Jesus based on seeing him praying, how would you describe Him? 

A real good egg? No!

Pope Benedict says that when we see Jesus praying we see that the best description for Him is “Son”. Not even “Son of God” or “Son of Man,” but simply “Son”.

He actually says that of all the titles for Jesus…like Prophet, Priest, Lord, or Messiah….Son is the best, the most fitting. The one that best describes who Jesus is. He’s “Son”.

So when he teaches us to pray “Father” he’s also telling us that “son” is our best description too. 

I was thinking about the “Our Father” in this light and how we pray “forgive us our trespasses”. Another way we might express it is “forgive us for the times we acted like orphans”. Maybe not stealing or defacing stuff or throwing rocks like Ricky Baker, but in some way, slipping back into orphan mode. 

Everything Jesus did – his prayer, preaching, miracles, temptations, suffering, everything – all of it in some way shows his awareness of the Father. 

When he teaches us to pray “Father” he’s inviting us to share in this awareness of the Father as sons, and ultimately to participate in Jesus’ own awareness of the Father.

In the movie, Hec (or “Uncle Hec” as Ricky calls him) is a pretty dim reflection of God the Father but in his presence, Ricky’s whole world is expanded. And he composes this haiku:

Trees. Birds. Rivers. Sky. / Running with my Uncle Hec / Living forever.

I think when Jesus says pray “Father”, he’s saying “come run with the Father, come live with the Father.” And cause he knows that telling us isn’t enough - cause we can be forgetful sons, and prone to live like orphans - he gives us his heart in the Eucharist, which as Pope Benedict reminds us, is above all else, a son’s heart.


+ Deacon Br. Francesco Mary Gavazzi, CFR
Yonkers, NY

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