Thu, 6/18/20: Our Father
Today's readings can be found: [HERE]
In our gospel passage today, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, and he gives them the prayer, which we have come to call fondly, the "Our Father". Here are a few thoughts on the "Our Father," very briefly.
Since the Our Father is one of the few prayers that we use we use word for word and is contained in Sacred Scripture, I tend to chant the Our Father at every Mass. These are holy words that God has given us through the inspired word and have a certain pride of place within the Mass. The only times I tend to refrain from chanting/singing the Our Father are Masses during Advent and Lent for the sake of graduated solemnity.
"Our": It's beautiful that from the get-go, Jesus invites us to pray together. Rather than saying, "My Father," we pray, "Our Father." Prayer is a communal event. While faith must be deeply personal, it is never private. Faith has the context of community. Even when praying "alone," when saying, "Our Father," one is praying in union with the whole Church and for the whole Church.
"Father": through our baptism into Jesus Christ, we direct our prayers to God as our Father not sentimentally, but literally. God is our Father, and it is that relationship that defines our existence at the deepest level.
"Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done..." these three petitions go together, and the clause, "On earth as it is in heaven," can be predicated of all three as a unified whole (rather than being a predication of "thy will be done" alone). There's a certain alliteration and rhyme to these clauses in the biblical Greek: ἁγιασθήτω τό ὄνομά σου, ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου, γενηθήτω τό θέλημά σου. And so, I appreciate it when translations include a comma between "Thy will be done," and "on earth as it is in heaven."
Regarding the clause, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," I should be very concerned if I have no one left to forgive, since my being forgiven seems to rely on my forbearance of others. When someone offends me, in a strange way, I'm actually indebted to them, because they give me an opportunity to loving in a Godlike way. Jesus forgave those who were crucifying them. He prayed for them: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." As disciples, we are called to do the same: to pray for those who persecute us.
May the grace we receive at Mass allow us to truly live the words we pray. May God bless you.