Homily for Tuesday of the 1st Week of Lent
In our Gospel that we’ve just heard, Jesus introduces the disciples to a new way of prayer that leads to a deeper and more intimate relationship with God as Father. Some of the Church Fathers, Origen being one of them, believed that the Our Father marked a radical departure from the more traditional Jewish prayers. And there may be some truth to that. The Jews do recognize God as Father – that’s evidenced throughout much of the Hebrew scriptures and in many of the Hebrew prayers. But what Jesus was trying to do with the introduction of this prayer is to highlight the importance of a personal relationship with God the Father.
In that sense then, the Our Father is the perfect prayer for us to pray. The words that Jesus tells us to pray are simple and to the point. Each phrase invites us to a conversion of heart, to a conversion of soul, and a change in the ways that we think about God. In the prayer, we bring to the Father seven petitions.
- Hallowed be thy name – that we recognize His holiness;
- Thy kingdom come – that there is something beyond just this world;
- Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven – that we remain focused on what God desires us to do;
- Give us our daily bread – that He provide us with all that we need;
- Forgive us our trespasses – that we be forgiven for the times that we have made mistakes;
- Lead us not into temptation – that God save us from being driven into temptation; and
- Deliver us from evil – that we be saved from the influence of the Devil.
The words of Jesus in this prayer are powerful in their simplicity and clarity, but they also challenge our fallen human nature. The Our Father challenges us to rely on God for everything because it is only in Him that we may be truly satisfied and be brought to a deeper understanding of how we are called to be authentic disciples of Jesus.
But we can’t just mechanically speak the words of the Our Father, we have to mean them. That’s the only way that we can enter into the richness of the prayer and truly be transformed by it. Let’s ask for a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts today, that we may be truly changed when we pray the Our Father before receiving the Eucharist – that we may have an experience of God as Father that changes our lives. The Lord can do it. We just have to give him the space. Will we do that this morning?
Painting: God the Father, Giovanni Ambrogio Bevilacqua at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wikimedia Commons. Used under the Creative Commons license CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.