July 7, 2019 - Pastor Message07/17/2019
THE YEAR OF PRAYER PART 19: THE LORD’S PRAYER “Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples’” (Luke 11:1).
Over the centuries, the Catholic Church has gathered a rich collection of memorized prayers that we all know and can pray. These prayers are a helpful resource in situations when we’re not sure how to pray. They enable us to pray together wherever we are without the need for booklets or programs. They also serve to teach and form us in the faith.
Often the origins of these prayers can be lost in the mists of time. For the best known of these prayers, however, that is not the case. The Lord’s Prayer, or the “Our Father,” comes from Christ himself, and is recorded in Scripture. We have actually two somewhat different versions of the prayer in the Bible: Matthew 6:913, and Luke 11:14. This is an important point to remember, because, when Jesus tells his disciples, “This is how you are to pray” (Matthew 6:9), he does not mean they are only to ever use these exact words. Rather, he teaches them this prayer as a model to follow, and, though the two versions in the gospels are different, they include the same basic themes.
As part of our Year of Prayer during the month of July, I will be reflecting on those themes by breaking the Lord’s Prayer down into its component parts, beginning at the beginning with “Our Father.” Jesus instructs us to pray to God as our Father, and it is only because of Jesus himself that we are able to do this. Jesus, the Son of God made flesh, crosses the divide of sin that separates us from God. By assuming our nature, he redeems us, and by the gift of the Holy Spirit, he makes us a new creation, joining us to himself as members of his Body, the Church. It is in union with the Son, then, that we are empowered by the Spirit to call God our Father. The opening of the Lord’s Prayer therefore is at once an expression of adoration of the Triune God and of intimacy with the God who is so close to us that he enables us to call him Father. It is also an expression of our unity with one another as all who are empowered to call God Father are made brothers and sisters through our shared communion with him, thus we say “our” Father, not “my” Father.Fr. Marc Stockton