Rich in what Matters to God by Rev. Jerome A. Magat
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation."
And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ' Friend, lend me three loves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
"And I tell you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy spirit to those who ask him?"
St. Luke's account of the lord's Prayer reveals that Jesus taught this prayer to His disciples. This suggests that the our Father can only truly be prayed when those who recite the prayer understand its meaning. And one can only understand its meaning if one has already become a disciple of the Lord.
first three petitions of the Lords' Prayer involve God's glory; the remaining
four petitions deal with our needs. This ordering is not insignificant.
Before we can ask God for His assistance in regards to our needs, we must first
give proper reverence to God's majesty. It is only when God is adored and
loved, that all other concerns find their proper order. By acknowledging
God as our father, we begin to enter into a proper relationship with Him.
In fact, the use of the name "Father" already suggests that we are His children.
Fatherhood is predicated upon the existence of children. A man who has no
children is not a father. The presence of children implies a Father who
has brought them to life.
The second part of the prayer, which involves our needs, is constructed with a perfect unity. The petitions involve three basic human needs and the three spheres of time. First, it implores God to give us bread, symbolic of what is needed to maintain life. The petition concerns things of the present time. Second, it asks God for forgiveness, yet another basic human need. The petition implies the need for redemption per actions performed in the past. Finally, it invokes God's help in the face of temptation - a need in the future. Therefore, the prayer not only involves basic human needs - it involves all time.
The petitions also acknowledge the role of the Most Holy Trinity in our lives. When we ask for bread, we invoke the power of God the Father, as creator and provider. When we ask for forgiveness, we are reminded of the power of Christ's passion, death and resurrection, which brought us forgiveness for sins. Finally, when we ask for assistance against future evil, we invoke the Holy Spirit as our protector, advocate and guide.
The second part of the Our Father involves all needs, all time and all of the Trinity. In effect, Jesus invites us to place our lives in God's hands and to allow God to bring all of Himself into our lives. The Lord's Prayer is called the "perfect prayer" not only because Jesus, the perfect teacher, taught it, but also because of the perfect unity of needs, time and the role of the Trinity contained within it.
While the Lord's Prayer is primarily addressed to the Father, it is clear that it also involves the work of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Although they are distinct persons within the Godhead, they remain a perfect unity. May our heartfelt recitation of the Lord's Prayer help engender our unity with God and with one another as we rely on Him for all of our needs in every age.
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