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Gospel, Luke 11:1-4
Today’s Holy Gospel illuminates not only the personal relationship man can dare to have with God the Father of all creation, but also laid the indestructible foundation of the eloquent summon “At the Saviour’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say…”, proclaimed by a Roman Catholic Priest during the Holy Eucharist.
Before contemplating on the crux of today’s Gospel, let us for a moment feed our minds and souls of an important aspect of the humanity and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many believers and non-believers alike ask, if Jesus was God why did He have to pray? And even if He prayed, though being God, was He praying to Himself? To address these questions, we should not fail to omit the Catholic teaching about the Holy Trinity. The Apostolic Faith clearly teaches us that God is three persons in One being. Those three persons; ‘Godheads’ – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are uniquely distinct in their individual essence, but One in Divinity. Because these are three distinct persons, it should not be difficult at all to comprehend that it is usual for one of the Persons to speak to one of the other Persons. In such a case, as with Christ praying to the Father, he isn’t talking to himself because he is talking to another Person.
Further on prayer, during the Biblical times, Jews were noted for their devotion to prayer. Formal prayer was prescribed for three set times a day. And the rabbis had a prayer for every occasion. It was also a custom for rabbis to teach their disciples a simple prayer they might use on a regular basis. When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He lovingly taught them a prayer, which in essence is a pragmatic conversation of love and hope by ‘the children’ with ‘their Father’ in heaven. The “Our Father” is in the plural. While teaching this prayer, Jesus did not call upon as, ‘My Father in heaven’, or teach them to say ‘your Father in heaven’. Instead by addressing His Father as ‘Our Father’, He, by His love for all of mankind, authenticated and authorized us into full communion of His Divine Son-ship, as well as, Kingship, He being the only Begotten Son of His Father.
The ‘Our Father’ is a community prayer, where humanity as a whole is prayed for, whether in a group or in case of a single person praying it. It is a prayer that encourages and confirms confidence in us to call as our Father and converse with Him.
The Lord’s Prayer, as it is called, recognizes the presence of the Most High God in heaven, praises and glorifies his holy name, acknowledges the rightful submission of human will, to that of the Father’s most holy will; ‘as it is in heaven’. It is essential for the flesh and spirit to sustain, Jesus ensures to subscribe those needs to the care of Divine providence. To His vicious and inhumane persecutors, from upon the cross, He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” As a precursor to this confidence in His Father’s ever abounding Divine Mercy, He taught humanity; through His disciples, to be assured of that same mercy upon each and every one who desires for it with a contrite heart. In doing so, He consequently teaches each one to be as forgiving as His Father is, towards their wrong doers. Remember what He said in Matthew 18:22, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
For the Saviour said, ‘When you pray, say, ‘Our Father.’ And another of the holy Evangelists adds, ‘who art in heaven’… ”He gives his own glory to us. He raises slaves to the dignity of freedom. He crowns the human condition with such honour as surpasses the power of nature. He brings to pass what was spoken of old by the voice of the psalmist: ‘I said, you are gods, and all of you children of the Most High’ (Psalm 82:6). He rescues us from the measure of slavery, giving us by his grace what we did not possess by nature, and permits us to call God ‘Father,’ as being admitted to the rank of sons. We received this, together with all our other privileges, from him. One of these privileges is the dignity of freedom, a gift peculiarly befitting those who have been called to be sons. He commands us, therefore, to take boldness and say in our prayers, ‘Our Father.
This is a quote from ‘The privilege and responsibility of calling God Father’, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD).
When children speak with their parents they try to transmit, through their words and body language, what they feel in their heart. We become better praying men and women when our relation with God is more intimate, as that of a father with his son. By teaching the ‘Our Father’, Jesus himself left with us his own example, and conformity in the truth that He is the Way.