Reflection for Sunday – July 24, 2022
Reading: Genesis 18:20-32; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11: 1-13
Preacher: Lourdes Perez-Albuerne
The disciples saw Jesus pray and the uniqueness of that prayer. Even, sometimes, during or after prayer, Jesus was able to perform miracles. We have in the Gospels, the curing of the sick, the Transfiguration and other instances. It was, therefore, to be expected that they would ask Jesus to teach them to pray.
In response, Jesus gives them, and us, the perfect prayer: the Our Father. There are some who see in this prayer the reflection of Jesus life. But most of the time we rattle this prayer without really thinking of what we are saying. The evangelist Luke gives us in today’s reading a less embellished Our Father than Matthew does. But in essence it’s the same model prayer, with its seven petitions. Let’s reflect on its words.
Father: The first word, conveys the essence of our relationships. God is benevolent and caring, and we all are brothers and sisters. I am moved by the symbolism found in the main door of the Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona, where the Our Father is written in many languages, with the words interlocked. We are all bound as children of God. But it also makes me conscious that this word is a reflection of the patriarchal society of Jesus’ times and that God is both Father and Mother. So by saying, “Father,” we acknowledge God’s creative love for all humans.
Hallowed be your name: In Jewish theology there is a concept that creation has the duty to keep the original goodness that proceeds from God. Jesus, with these words, wants us to note this fact and the greatness of God. You remember that for the Jews the name denoted who and what the person is. So, the word YWHW, which they don’t say, talks about the unfathomable reality of a God that is all creative love and this is reflected in all creation.
Your kingdom come: The disciples understood that Jesus had come to install God’s reign on earth. But that was only the beginning. The full reign of God would come after, and they, as we, are anxious to see its fullness. Jesus invokes that this reign should come, so that God’s love, God’s justice and God’s peace would be made present now.
Give us this day our daily bread: Our God, our creator, is also interested in sustaining life and, therefore, we are asking for the necessary means to live an adequate and dignified life.
Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us: In this petition we acknowledge that every one of us is a sinner and only God can forgive us. Having received that forgiveness, we will extend ours to our brother or sister who we perceived as having wronged us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial: Being weak human beings, we constantly need God’s help in making the decisions in our life that make us truly human and followers of Jesus. Sometimes, when things don’t happen the way we want them, we get angry with God and decide to abandon God. In this petition we ask that this never happen because we want to be God’s hands and feet in this world.
But Jesus, having given us the perfect prayer, also teaches us about the elements that our prayer should have. Jesus says that our prayer has to be one of petition, searching and calling.
To petition is the attitude of a person who recognizes the need to receive from another. We are interdependent, not self-sufficient. To search is not only to ask; it requires us to come out of our comfort and actively look for something unknown at the time. To call is to appeal to one who we feel is close and can help us. Jesus wants to be sure that His followers understand the need for prayer and that God is always there to hear us and give us what we ask if it is good for us.
Times of prayer are a need for every human being and we have to be sure that we use words, silent or expressed, that will convey to a God, who is always near us, what is in our hearts. Sometimes they are answered the way we want them, and sometimes they are not. But we have to pray, convinced that God always hears us