A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 6:7-15:
Jesus said to his disciples:
7 “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
8 Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This is how you are to pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
10 thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread;
12 and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;
13 and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
14 “If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
Reflection: Our Father
What is prayer? Try to search it using Google and most definitions use two verbs namely: talking and listening. So it is a two-way traffic, just like when we communicate with one another. It is as simple as that. We talk to God and we listen to Him. Yet many people do not pray for the main reason that they do not know how to do it.
In the gospel reading above, Jesus teaches us how to pray and so the “Our Father” has become the most famous prayer although sometimes, it has become too formulaic. It is actually a beautiful prayer and a very convenient one. When we pray and we are at a lost on how to do it, we can recite it slowly, pausing at every word or phrase, and letting it speak for us and to us.
To call God, our Father, is a radical teaching of Jesus. Although in the Old Testament God was presented as the Father of the Israelites, the Jews were reluctant or hesitant to call Yahweh as simply their father as individuals. That is why, the religious leaders of His time were angry at Him for casually calling God His father and teaching His disciples to do the same. Yet that is the central message of His mission: God is our common Father and we can call it that way. What a closer relationship we can have with God than a father-child relationship! Also, the pronoun “our” is used so that we will always be reminded that we all belong to one family – a relationship with one another.
Yet God is different from an ordinary mortal parent. Jesus tells us that He is in heaven, meaning above us. So this Father of ours deserves the utmost respect by all. His name is hallowed or holy so He ought to be worshiped above everything. He is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords and that His Will prevails everywhere be it in heaven or on earth.
God as our Father provides our daily needs including the forgiveness of our sins. Yet just as our Father forgives us so we too need to forgive others. Finally, as a Father, He will lead us away from temptation and He will deliver us from evil.
Obviously, the Our Father as a prayer is complete. It allows us to adore Him, to be contrite for our sins, to thank Him for being a Father to us and to supplicate for our needs which include our material necessities and guidance to always walk in His path.