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 others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
The use of pronouns is an interesting subject. Here is just one example. As a parent we choose pronouns when we speak of our children to reflect our feelings at the time. We may be proud or joyful because of something they have accomplished or an act of unexpected kindness. In this case one might say “That’s my boy or that’s my girl”. On the other hand, when they have done something that upsets us or behave in an unkind or rebellious manner we say, “Your son or your daughter did…”. Then, if we are talking about our children in a tender moment we might say, “Our children are an incredible blessing because…”.
In today’s gospel, when Jesus’ followers ask Him to teach them how to pray and he shares these beautiful familiar words of praise, worship, supplication, and hope. Unfortunately, far too often when we pray these words, we say them in haste and do not savor the meaning of each precious word. I invite us to focus on the first two words and at some other time to do the same with the rest.
Jesus begins with “Our Father…”. The way He starts this prayer not only sets up the rest of the prayer but lays the foundation for Jesus’ mission on earth. Jesus came to reestablish our place in the heavenly kingdom and to restore our relationship with the Most Holy Trinity. There are two times (but so many more) in the gospels where the desire to make this possible is clear. In John 15:15 he says we are no longer slaves but friends because he has told us everything he heard from his father. And in Luke 8:21 he says His mother and brother are those hear the word of God and act on it. Jesus’ mission began with a call to repent, to change our ways, our direction. His message continued to evolve as He ministered to people in all walks of life and circumstances, but His purpose never wavered. He obeyed the will of His Father, Our Father to bring us back from the dead to new life with His Father, Our Father.
And as a reminder to all of us, His invitation to reconciliation and redemption is not restricted to those who respond favorably. It is not an offer only for those who meet certain criteria based on rules and regulations. It is meant for every person who has ever existed. The Father we pray to does not exclude anyone from his love, mercy, and forgiveness. Neither should we.
Action of the Day:
Pray the Our Father slowly. Pay attention to the words pausing every so often and think about, medidtate on what you say and how you feel. God may reveal something new and beautiful in this familiar prayer. May we never take for granted the message of love and hope in the words our Lord and Saviour taught us.