17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
We know the “Our Father” by heart. We pray it everyday! It is almost a second skin to our spirituality as Christians. But is more than just a formula of prayer, it is about relationship.
Whenever the disciples saw Jesus in deep prayer, there was always something extraordinary with Him. They knew He was in communion with His Father. With this in mind, they asked Him to teach them to pray. The response of Jesus the “Our Father” became the prayer excellence and the model of all prayers.
The disciples did not ask Jesus to teach them “how to pray” but simply “to pray” so Jesus did not just teach them a formula of prayer. For Jesus, “to pray” means to enter into a sacred realm with God as an expression of a special relationship between us and our God. It is called filial relationship. That is why we open the prayer with the possessive determiner “Our”. To call God “our Father” means we identify ourselves as somebody in relationship with God as our Father and that we are His children. It is in the plural which means that we also associate ourselves with the rest of those who call God their Father. The prayer reminds us of our connectivity with God and with our brothers and sisters, not just among those who profess our Christian faith but to the rest of humanity and the whole creation as well.
To pray is to plug in ourselves into the source of our being just like when we plug in our gadgets like computers and mobiles to the power point to have them charged and keep running. Without being charged, the batteries are dead and our gadgets useless no matter how expensive they are. They are good for nothing. In the same way, whenever we pray to God our Father, we re-charge the batteries of our souls so that being spiritually charged then we are up to living a fuller life. When our batteries are depleted and down, we don’t need a wall or power point the way we charge our gadgets but a simple prayer like the “our Father” to keep us going again.
The Our Father as a formula of prayer is addressed to the Father just like Jesus always addressing all His prayers and activities to His Father. The first part urges to give something first to God what is due to Him, namely to make His name holy and that His Kingdom may come. We don’t jump outright to our petitions without acknowledging our need to give to God even if He does not need it because that is required by justice. Then we tell Him our needs. We call this as supplications or petitions. The first thing we ask is the need for material goods represented by our daily bread. It is followed by the need of our souls that is the gift of inner peace through reconciliation. The basis of our reconciliation is our initiative to forgive others first before we ask for our own forgiveness. Lastly, we pray for the strength that we need in our journey through life that we be delivered from all evil.
To pray is not to demand God what we want but to be open to all the blessings He has in store for us. If our own fathers can give us the best for their children, how much more God our Father who can give us not just the best but fullness of life! Amen.