March 19, 2014
By Father William Muench
One of the more interesting ceremonies of the RCIA program during Lent is the presentation of the Lord’s Prayer to the catechumens preparing for Baptism. The Lord’s Prayer is a gift to all of us from Jesus Christ. This prayer is an old friend to all of us, Catholics, and, in fact, to all Christians. With the Lord’s Prayer, we all have the words we need for prayer. Jesus has given us the perfect prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer has been a valuable friend for me. Many times when I am in need of prayer, I turn to the Lord’s Prayer. When visiting a patient in the hospital, I often want to invite that patient – and sometimes the family – to join me in prayer, I turn to the Lord’s Prayer. All are ready to join in with me. The Lord’s Prayer is always perfect.
I do remember so well a woman at our nursing home who seemed to be almost unresponsive and yet when I would visit her and begin the Lord’s Prayer she would join right in with me.
Think of how perfect this prayer is. Jesus tells us to call God, Our Father. Our God is not some far away, powerful force. Our God is a person, a Father. God loves us like a Father; we are a loved people.
This is what life is about as disciples of Jesus. We have a relationship, a close relationship, with God for our God loves us unconditionally. We are not required to do anything to earn this love. God loves us. The challenge for us as a loved people is to live like a loved person.
A loved person radiates with the realization that they are loved. A Christian should radiate that they are loved by God. Being loved by God should be clear in all that we are and do. So, are you as a Catholic ready to let the world know that you are a loved person, loved by your God? Is it obvious by the very way you live?
Do we, Catholics, truly realize just how much we are loved by God? Is it obvious to all that we are a loved people? God loves us. God will stand with us always. God will be there when we need the strength and courage to live well, to make the right decisions, to show our concern for those in need in the Spirit of our Lord. We are a loved people.
“Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.” Since we are loved by our God, we are called to be part of his Kingdom – God’s Kingdom – God’s way of life in the Spirit of our King.
We are loved by our King. We live that love by living in the way of our God according to the message of Our Savior. As members of the Kingdom of God, our life should be a demonstration of our place in this Kingdom, the Kingdom of the God who loves us like a Father.
“Give us this day our daily bread” – for us, Catholics, the first thing we think of is the Blessed Eucharist. Jesus loved us so much that he wanted to be united with us. In this wonderful sacrament, he truly becomes one with us. As a Eucharistic people, we never leave Jesus in the Church when we walk out the door; he leaves united with us in a special way. We truly become the Body of Christ. Jesus is united with us in all that we do.
Then in our prayer we challenge ourselves and our God. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
As followers of a loving God, who is our Father, a loving and forgiving Father, we pledge to be a forgiving people. To make ourselves reliable, we declare, “Forgive me, Lord, as I forgive others.”
So we go on to ask Our Father, “Lead us not into temptation.” The temptations that we who are a loved people, loved by a loving Father, our God, do not live as a loving person. We start trying to become someone other than the person our loving God wants us to be. We ask our God to guide us so that we may truly become that loving person in the Spirit of the Lord.
So each time we turn to the Lord and say that magnificent prayer, the Lord’s Prayer we certainly have a great deal to say.