The Gospel according to Matthew (6:7-15)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
“If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
Today’s Gospel focuses on one of the three pillars of Lent: prayer. Prayer is really all about conversation with God, building a relationship with Him. It is also a pattern or model for how we can always orient our prayers. I have always found it to be very therapeutic and a way of centering myself if I quietly pray the Our Father.
We are called to first recognize God for who He is – He is our Father, our Creator, and we should seek to do whatever it is that He has called us to do. In my own heart, I ask the question: “what is it that I can do to make it so that it is “on earth” as it is in heaven?”
Then, we ask God for our own needs, that we have enough to eat (and for those who don’t, that our loving Lord will provide). Maybe it is a call to me to do some act of charity for those in need, like donating to a food kitchen, acknowledging one of our homeless brothers or sisters as a child of God as we are.
Finally, we ask the Lord to forgive us for the ways we have not followed His law of love and for the grace to forgive those who have wronged us in some way. And, it goes without saying that we forgive and not keep score. God wipes our offenses away when we are forgiven. We are asked to do nothing less to those whom we forgive. I didn’t say it was easy, but it is what we are called to do!
The Our Father’s last line is that we know that God does not willingly “lead us into temptation”, and that He will ultimately deliver us from whatever evil we do (or is done to us). That’s something we take on faith, and trust in our loving Lord.
Let us use this pattern to always orient our hearts toward God, that we may walk as His child, and that we may shine His light to guide others to find Him as we have.
Action for the Day: Pray the Our Father slowly, pondering each line, and asking God to show us how to share His love with someone today.
If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!