17th Sunday of the Year
The Lord’s Prayer
Every once in awhile we are bombarded by ads or promotions of a new product that is supposedly the secret to all our problems, that is a superior brand, that is the end to our worries. Good marketing grabs our attention with some cleaning product that can now clean ‘those hard to reach places’, those 'difficult to remove stains’,etc. Without the brand we are now made to feel that we are missing out, inadequate; we haven’t lived; or we are deficient without this holiday, this food, this accessory, this upgrade - just what we always wanted but we didn't know that till now!
If there is one thing we are always conscious of, it is what we lack! Sometimes it is things, such as money, property, but we are more impressed by people who seem to have it made!
Clever marketing also entices us to buy a book with all sorts of nuggets of wisdom about how to succeed in business or relationships, in love, in investment, in communication, in personality, in balance, in finding the key to happiness.
Maybe there is someone we know who we admire. He or she is a prayerful person and a person of integrity. We want to know the secret of their success, their happiness, their peace. Today’s Gospel shows us the disciples intrigued by Jesus’ form of prayer. They want to follow his example because they are impressed and touched by the great lengths he goes to in order to pray by himself to the Father, that he has a life and habit of praying, and of course that it has a direct bearing on His personality and his mission.
The answer Jesus gives them and us is the Our Father.
The Our Father is about 4 P words
(1)People – we are God’s People – we are His chosen people, or more specifically, His children. We are called to recognize that we are called as children to pray for one another. The prayer is not about me but about all of us. It challenges me to realize that I am not simply praying on my own behalf, but opens my eyes to recognize that my needs are also common to the needs of all people! It opens my eyes to see that if God is my Father then others are my brothers and sisters and I ought to treat them accordingly.
Therefore we use the terms ‘our’, ‘us, and ‘we, not my, mine or me! We say: ‘Give us, forgive us, lead us.’
(2) Peace: It is about peace with others – peace within myself too - in doing God’s will, and furthering His Kingdom (which is one and the same thing!). Peace with others implies mutual forgiveness as well as seeking divine forgiveness. It is also said that ‘in God’s will is our peace’.
We seek protection in times of temptation, not that temptation will never happen but that we will be given the strength to endure whatever comes our way. The sure way to repeated sin is through pride and presumption that we have freed ourselves by our own efforts alone. We pray for protection against ‘the wickedness and snares of the devil.’
‘Thy will be done in all things’. Trust to believe that ‘God will provide’ for all our needs, and that nothing is too small for His concern for our welfare and that of others.
The daily bread – that we live for today and not for an uncertain tomorrow, and that we take the opportunities to serve him and not to help ourselves without his aid.
Let us pray in the words Our Saviour gave us...