Our Father by Fr Gerard Theraviam

Our Father, Who art in heaven

To be able to call God Our Father is to acknowledge not only our Divine Parent but to do so together with our sisters and brothers. My relationship with God thus also necessitates a familial relationship with humanity who share this relationship – thus, one has to make the shift from a purely individual spirituality to one that is communitarian.

Hallowed be Thy Name;
May your name be held holy: A person’s name is actually a reference to the person. Hence what we mean in this petition is to acknowledge the Otherness of God.

Recognizing God’s holiness is not just about avoiding taking His name in vain or blasphemy.
To recognize the holiness of God’s name and thus person is also to be aware of our own call to ‘Be Holy for I am holy’.

Thy kingdom come,
That the Kingdom might come is not mere wishful thinking on our parts but rather a commitment to be participants, not mere onlookers, of the Kingdom, actively working towards Kingdom values of Love, Truth, Justice  & Peace.

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
While it may be safely assumed that God’s Will is indeed done in heaven, we are challenged to see God’s will coming into fruition in our own lives here on earth. This can be hard for us who are used to having our own way and expecting God to accommodate to what we want; what is called for is to let go completely of our own whims and fancies, and allow God to be God, and to lead us along His Way.

Give us this day our daily bread,
One way of  translating  this phrase from the original language is more akin to ‘Give us today our bread for tomorrow’; thus expressing our daily dependence on God for all that we need for life.

It is not about satisfying our greed asking for BMWs and the such, but rather expressing our actual our needs.

Asking  God to provide for us  daily is to allow for a continuous dependence on God, rather than sliding into a false sense of feeling that we can go it alone, of not having to depend on God if we already had an abundance to last us for a long time.

Asking God for our needs does not mean that we abandon responsibility for working for what we need but rather allowing Him to lead us to the right places and times, to sustain our efforts and strength.

and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;
Surely we need God’s forgiveness for the times we fall into sin, but this petition tells us that we cannot see it as one-way traffic coming from God’s side, but the onus is placed on us to offer forgiveness and reconciliation to people who have sinned against us. This can be very hard when we choose not to forgive and prefer to nurse our hurts and thus are encumbered with excess baggage of unforgiveness.

and lead us not into temptation,
Whether God leads us or allows us temptations or we seem to look for them is debatable, but the fact is that we find ourselves often tempted , but what we are asking here ist be allowed to fall into temptation. Temptation by itself is not sin, but we can take the step into sin – what is needed is not just a firm resolve on our part but also God’s protection and guidance.

but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Surely God protects us from Evil, but asking that we be delivered from evil (or the Evil One, as the original translation suggests) is to also recognize our own call to avoid evil and situations of evil and sin.

Saying Amen (meaning: It shall be so!) at the end of a prayer is to entrust everything to God, with faith and anticipation that God does indeed answer our prayer according to His Will.

 

This article was originally written by Fr Gerard Theraviam for CANews in May 2013

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