Jesus gives us this wonderful prayer of the Our Father. What I love about the Our Father is it is the one prayer that Catholics know from the time that they’re receiving their First Communion all the way to the very end of their life. When I’m praying with somebody and anointing them, and when I pray the Our Father, they can still say the words barely out of their mouths. It’s so good that we know this prayer and that we say it repeatedly because Jesus says, “Ask, and you shall receive.” So he gives us this powerful prayer. What sometimes I wonder is if we pray it slow enough. I wonder if when we pray the Our Father, we really mean every word that we say because I know for myself sometimes I can just say it and say it really quickly and not even know what I’ve prayed.
What I’d like you to do for this homily is I’m going to lead you through a slow guided meditation that hopefully will kind of remind you the next time you pray the Our Father, hopefully, every day or multiple times a day, to really pray it from the heart, to think about each word that you say in this powerful prayer that God is giving us, promising us that if we pray it, if we ask we will receive, if we seek, we will find if we knock the door will be open to us.
I just invite you, if you’re comfortable, to close your eyes, and I’ll lead you through just some reflection on the Our Father. If you’re interested in going more deeply into this, I would invite you; if you have a catechism at home, it’s the last part of the catechism. It goes through the Our Father word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase. If you don’t, you can find it online, too, but that might be a neat meditation for you to do this week as you reflect on the Our Father.
So again, close your eyes, and I just want to kind of go through this with you. The very first word in the Our Father is ‘our.’ When we pray this, we’re praying it in union with Jesus, that He is the one that taught us this prayer. He’s saying, “whenever you pray this prayer, I want you to pray with me.” You’re not saying, my father. Instead, we’re saying, Our Father. We’re not praying it only together for ourselves but for this entire church throughout the world, including all the angels and saints that have gone before us. When we say ‘our,’ we’re praying this prayer together.
The next is ‘Father.’ What does it mean that Jesus invited us to call God ‘father’, such a beautiful and powerful expression of who God is to us, that he does truly want to be our father. I want you to try, in your mind, just think of images that you have of your father, your own father or grandfather or great grandfather or father figures, maybe your godfather, people that have been good to you in your life. I want you to try to think of father figures, and then I want you to think of what makes a good father. Maybe it’s the way a father delights in their child or a father holds their child, or a father comforts their child. Jesus wants you to have this relationship with his father and your father. I want you just to try to feel as close as you can with the father. Maybe you have some negative images of fatherhood. If anything negative comes up, just let that go and try to dwell on the father that Jesus wants to reveal to you.
The next phrase, ‘who art in heaven,’ expresses the reality that God is pure and holy; God in heaven, and He is in heaven, but when we pray this prayer, He wants to be with us. He can actually draw us into heaven by these words. I want you to imagine yourself right now in the reality, as we celebrate this Eucharist, that we are together right now in heaven.
‘Hallowed be thy name, is saying that the name of God is so holy, it’s so powerful, that if we even say His name, we enter into that holiness. ‘Thy kingdom come,’ we’re asking Him right now, “Father, can your kingdom come upon this earth?” Remember, ask, and you shall receive. Can your kingdom come upon us right now? The next phrase, ‘thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. When his Kingdom comes is when we all do his will. I want you to think of your own life right now. Are you doing the will of God in your life? We hear in the first reading that it only took 10 holy people to save the entire world. You could be one of those people. Is there anything that you know in your life that you’re not doing according to His will? This could be a moment just to renounce that and to reclaim yourself and do His will.
‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ the word for daily, is found in only two places in the entire world, the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke, referring to this daily bread in the Our Father. Nowhere else in the Greek language, so the understanding is that they had to come up with this new word to even describe this daily bread that we’re given by God. What that means is, that it’s not only food that he wants to provide for you, but he wants to provide for you in every way possible, daily. The thing is, we have to ask for it daily, and sometimes we don’t ask for things. We just do, or we try to provide it for ourselves. I just invite you to think about that right now. What is the daily bread? What’s that supernatural substance that you need from God? That could be any need, physical, emotional, or spiritual; what would you ask him for right now?
Then it continues on, ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. Jesus is saying, “in order for this to work, in order for God’s will to happen in our lives, in order to be forgiven, we must forgive.” First of all, ‘forgive us our trespasses. You can ask God anytime throughout the day to forgive you. If you messed up, if you sinned, if you’ve gotten off the path, you can immediately go and ask for forgiveness. Right now, what is it that you need to be forgiven for? ‘As we forgive those who trespass against us,’ probably there’s somebody you need to forgive, and I need to forgive. Who is that person or those people who have hurt you? In order for God’s Kingdom to come about, in order for us to do his will, we also need to forgive. Take this moment to just reflect on anyone that you need to forgive in your life and just say, “I forgive you.” Forgiveness is a choice. You can choose right now to forgive them.
‘Lead us not into temptation; we are tempted in this life by Satan. He does attack us and does tempt us, but we’re asking Jesus not to lead us into it, not lead us into any temptation that we can’t overcome or can’t resist, to spare us from that temptation, especially the final temptation at our death. What are some of the things that you know that you’re tempted by? I want you to ask him now to protect you from that, to lead you away from that, to not lead you into it. Then, finally, ‘deliver us from all evil’, think about just the evils in the world, the evils in our country, evils in our own families and hearts. What evils would you like to be delivered from? And, finally, just a reminder that this prayer, we’re called to pray daily. At some point throughout the day, to really take the time to pray to Our Father, to go through this line by line and really allow Jesus to work this powerful prayer that He has given to us. The prayer that He promises, “if we ask, we will receive, if we seek, we will find, and if we knock, the door will be open to us”.