10.11.17 Thurs. wk. 27 – O.T. – (I)
1st Rdg . Jonah 4: 1 – 11
Gospel – Luke 11: 1 – 4
†Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread* and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” The Gospel of the Lord.
Fr. Mike Murphy Living the Lord’s Prayer
We are all familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, and the version in Luke’s Gospel that you just heard, is the abridged version of the prayer. (The version in Matthew’s Gospel is much longer.) We recite this prayer at every Liturgy, we recite it six times when we pray the Rosary, but many do not understand the full impact of this particular prayer. It is the prayer that †Jesus personally gave to us. It is the only prayer we know of in Scripture that †Jesus actually gave to us. So one has the sense that this is a prayer that †Jesus Himself prayed; His own prayer.
It is a wonderful prayer of revelation, talking about God and about ourselves. This prayer tells us three things about God. First: He is the Creator of all that exists, of all heaven and earth. Everything that has ever been made God created it. He gave us the intelligence to be His co-creators. We are co-creators with God, but He is the primary Creator. Also, the Lord sustains all that He has made: “Give us this day our daily bread.” He gives us what we need for our daily journey so that we can journey to the Kingdom. God is very generous.
Secondly: The Lord is also called: “Our Father.” In †Jesus we are all reborn. We are his adopted children, and we are heirs to all the promises given by †Jesus. †Jesus teaches us that we can call out to “Our Father” at anytime. If we call out to God in prayer what will you do for us? (speaking to the students) Will He say: “no”? Oh, sometimes He does say: “no”, but He always gives us the good things that we need. Will He ever do anything to hurt us? “No”. He loves us so much. He loves us because we’re His children and like any good parent, the Father will give us what we need to live full lives. He won’t give us any harmful things.
I used to ask for a lot of things. I used to ask to win the lottery. I even went out and bought tickets for the lottery every week. Did I ever win? No. I never won because God knew that I couldn’t handle that kind of money; so, He said: “No, not for you. You need to stay simple.” The Lord does not always give us what we need; He will not answer prayer that will be harmful to us, that will separate us from Him or enslave us in selfishness.
St. Cyril of Alexandria in the fifth century wrote this: “God rescues us from slavery, giving us, by His grace, what we did not process by nature. He permits us to call Him: ‘Father’ as being admitted to the rank of sons and daughters.” (Commentary of Luke; Homily 71)
Some things that we ask for in our prayer are very self-centered because our focus is to build us up. But God will never give us anything that will separate us from Him. And sometimes, the things that we ask for, because they are so self-centered, could separate us from Him.
So regarding unanswered prayer – there is always a reason for it. The reason is not that you are being punished; God does not punish His children! But, sometimes He does allow us to go through a penitential stage in our life because we need it, but he never, ever punishes. So unanswered prayer does not mean that God is angry with you or that He is going to punish you. It means that He loves you and He will not give us anything that will separate us from Him.
Thirdly, the Lord’s Prayer reveals that God gives us our daily blessings so we can share those with other people, specifically to express His love, His mercy and His compassion. This is not what Jonah intended in our first reading. Jonah was angry with God because God forgave the Ninevites. Now Jonah was a prophet; what are prophets supposed to do? Prophets were supposed to be God’s representatives; to represent the mercy and Love of God? Was Jonah doing that? I don’t think so. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh in the first place so he tried to run away. He eventually, went into Nineveh and preached; but he never expected the Ninevites to convert, to change their ways. Then when they did, Jonah argued with God. He thought that the people of Nineveh needed to be treated much more harshly than they were.
The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that we must be willing to forgive others ‘as God has forgiven us.’ And the Lord’s Prayer specifically states this so you know He means it. God will forgive us in proportion to how we forgive others. So, think about your life right now. Is there anyone that you sort-of forgave, that you buried the hatchet and marked the spot so you can dig it up whenever you get angry with that person? Well, maybe God would do the same thing to us. †Jesus makes it very clear, ‘God will forgive us in proportion to how we forgive others.’
God is patient and merciful with the most unforgivable person, He is patient with us. It is not easy to forgive those that we think have hurt us and done us harm. But we must continue to ask for the grace to show mercy to everyone. So when we pray this personal Prayer of †Jesus, let us do so with reverence, understanding what we are praying and to whom we are praying. It is the One who does not lead us into temptation, who protects us and wants us to be close to Him. It is the One who delivers us from the final evil, which is death, and who calls us to be His sons and daughters.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.