17th Sunday in OT / C / 2019
Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan
The Gospel today gives us Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer—shorter, more concise, more "to the point." It gives us the opportunity this week to take a look at probably the world’s most popular Christian prayer—said millions of times every day over the past 2000 years. That is a lot of praying. Think of all the great saints praying this prayer. Think of ourselves—who will soon say this prayer in the liturgy. Think of Jesus saying this prayer—Jesus, who gives us his own prayer.
"When you pray," Jesus begins, "say: Father, hallowed be your name." The first word is very important: Father. Abba: the word a child uses to address his father: dad. Jesus invites us to share his intimacy with the Father. And so we are not just repeating some words given to us. We are entering into the very relationship of Jesus and the Father. It’s almost overwhelming!
Then, "Hallowed be thy name." May your name be made holy. Holy means to be "set apart." May your name, your person, be the most important thing in my life. Remember the 1st Commandment: "no strange gods before me." When God is first, everything else falls into place. What is everything else? Power, money, glory, pleasure, etc. To love God with your whole heart and mind and soul. Hallowed.
"Your kingdom come." The "kingdom" was the central teaching of Jesus—the whole of Jesus teaching. And what is the kingdom? The reign of God. May God reign over all. This was the hope of Israel, after many bad kings and many bad overlords. They looked forward to the day when the "king of righteousness" would reign—the peaceable kingdom, the kingdom of justice, peace and love. And so we, too, pray for the kingdom, when Christ will be all, in all—when all of us will live the values of the kingdom.
"Give us each day our daily bread." As simple as that line is in English, it is complicated in Greek. What it translates as "daily bread" is really something more. Something like
"super-substantial bread," or "super bread." What can this "super bread" be? The Eucharist, of course. As we pray for the kingdom to come, we also pray to receive Christ in "super bread"—that is, his body and blood. Each day. A great saint once said, "If people really understood the Eucharist, they would be lined-up out the door to receive it." Our daily bread.
"Forgive us our sins." Jesus repeats it many times: "Your sins are forgiven." Jesus came to us for many reasons, but forgiveness of sins is perhaps the most important. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; Jesus died on the cross for forgiveness of sins. And if we wish to follow Jesus, we will do the same: forgive one another.
Finally, "Do not subject us to the final test." There was a belief at the time of Jesus that before the Messiah would come in glory, there would be a period of trial and testing. Our prayer as that we be spared that trial—with the implication that we don’t need it. When Jesus comes in glory, we will embrace him.
So, what do we find in just these few lines of prayer: 1) intimacy with God, 2) God the center of our lives, 3) embracing the values of the kingdom, 4) receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, 5) forgiveness of sins, 6) reconciliation with our brothers and sisters, and 7) life everlasting in the kingdom.