March 4, 2015
By Father William Muench
This week, as part of the ceremonies of the RCIA, the Lord’s Prayer is presented. This prayer – the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father – is the gift of the Catholic Church to these catechumens who have chosen to enter the Church at the Easter Vigil.
The Lord’s Prayer was Jesus’ gift, one of his greatest gifts to his people. It is truly a perfect prayer. There are so many times when we need a prayer but can only think of a jumble of words. Jesus gives us the proper words in the Lord’s Prayer. As children, we all learn the Lord’s Prayer and we can invite others to pray with us by saying together the Lord’s Prayer.
I personally remember many situations when I needed a prayer. I think of times when I wanted to share a prayer with someone I am visiting in the hospital, often someone who is dying. So I suggested the Lord’s Prayer and together we prayed the Lord’s Prayer, over and over several times. There have been similar times when I was with a whole family around the sick bed of a loved one. Again I wanted them all to join in prayer. They all knew the Lord’s Prayer so we prayed together.
I remember a friend of mine who told me such a story. He was driving somewhere and came upon an automobile accident. He was one of the first to come upon the scene. Help was called and on the way. One of the people had been thrown out of the car and lay on the ground, a ways off.
My friend knew enough not to touch him but he decided to stay with him. He asked if he was a Catholic and then suggested that they say the Lord’s Prayer together until the rescue squad came. And that is what he did.
It truly is a gift, isn’t it, to have a prayer – a prayer we can say when driving, when walking or running, when we are in a crisis and need a prayer.
The Our Father is well loved by us, Catholics. It is good for us to remember that in Jesus’ time – Jesus’ prayer was a bit startling. When Jesus spoke of God as a Father his people, even his apostle, probably found it almost impossible to accept. Their God was the God of Moses, the God that Moses met on Mount Sinai, the all-powerful God who frightened the Hebrew people, the God who was beyond and over and above them.
Then comes Jesus to teach them that when they pray to God, they should say “Our Father.” Jesus encourages all of us to establish a bold, unique relationship with God, a relationship with this God who wants to be “Our Father.”
So, when we pray, when we want to find the presence of God, we should do so with the realization that God is our Father. When we realize that God is “Our Father” we are changed, we are different people. We are loved; our God loves us like a Father. God wants to be involved in our life as a Father.
There is so much more in this prayer. A readiness to give glory to God, praying that God’s will be done always. We seek our daily bread, not just our sustenance here and now but also our spiritual strength in the Blessed Eucharist.
Then there is forgiveness – our deal with God. God you can forgive me in the same way as I forgive others. I don’t fully understand this. I believe that our God is a forgiving God and we can depend on God’s forgiveness yet, God doesn’t completely need us. Still, in this prayer, Jesus wants us to realize how important it is – that without our spirit of forgiveness, the forgiveness of God goes unnoticed.
Finally, each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we turn to God, Our Father, to seek deliverance from evil. In the Our Father, we are constantly placing ourselves in the arms of our God, seeking protection and love. Each of us is a loved person.