Wednesday the 11th Week in Ordinary Time
(Memorial of St. Lutgard, Cistercian Nun)
(Sirach 28: 1 – 14; Ps97; Matthew 6: 7 – 15)
And Jesus taught them: “This is how you are to pray.. ‘Our Father…’.”And in
giving us this prayer, just these two words “Our Father” contain a profound and
challenging teaching that affects the way we live, think and pray.
This prayer “The Lord’s Prayer” contains both the vertical – our relationship with
God expressed in the first part and the horizontal – our relation with one another
expressed in the second part. In listening carefully to Jesus’ words, we find that
prayer is never a matter of just God and me because God is not my Father alone
but the Father of all. If there is an all-inclusive prayer, this is it!
Notice the plural throughout the prayer beginning with the first word “Our” – and
the plural continues to the end – “give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us ” –
never: me, my, mine – through Jesus’ words we are told clearly that calling “Our
Father” means being sensitive to others, to living charity in all its forms. It
means that being willfully ignorant, deliberately rude to another, to choose to
treat another poorly is to make a lie of this prayer…then the our of “Our Father”
is merely a pronoun – a word Jesus randomly chose.
Can prayer, no matter how pious, no matter how frequent become dishonest?
Of course, dishonesty can exist anywhere – what is in my heart determines true
prayer and false prayer – good prayer and bad prayer – honest prayer and
dishonest prayer. Hatred, disdain, arrogance covered over by pious words are
what they are and deaden the heart.
We will stand before God in judgment one day and hopefully, the Lord will not
say to you, to me: You called on Me but your heart was not with Me. When you
prayed “Our Father” and excluded another or others in any way, I did not listen
because you did not listen to the Lord Jesus’ teaching – you heard what you
wanted to hear. You used His words but your heart was far from Him!
The Lord’s teaching is “spirit and life” – isn’t that why we seek, listen, obey? Isn’t
His teaching, His word the desire of our hearts?