Seeing the “Our Father” as the Gospel passage today there’s a bombardment of thoughts that came to mind. It’s the most common, known prayer in all of Christianity. There’s some incredible reflections that Saints have written expanding on these words. I’m thinking of St. Francis of Assisi in particular who wrote meditations based on each line of this prayer – which make it possible to take something that we can recite within less than a minute into something you could spend hours reflecting on. But on a personal level the reality that this was probably the first prayer I was taught and one that I can recall from my childhood seems to be front and center.
While words like “hallowed” might have been confused with “Harold” and at a young age no one explained why we used “thy” instead of “your” -(at least not my CCD teacher) The basic concepts helped to form my image of God – a Father, who gives – on a daily basis, who forgives, and expects me to forgive (even my two older brothers??? yes even them). I think back to how these simple but important concepts all helped conceptualize who God was in words that were very comforting, understandable and accessible. The beauty of the prayer is that those basics continue to grow and flesh out with each passing day. As a 46 year old man, Catholic my whole life, a priest for 21 years, who lost my Dad in 2014 the role of Fatherhood has most definitely grown and flourished in a way I could never have appreciated reciting these words as a 7 year old before my First Communion. “Forgiving others” too moved from the grievance of my brother not letting me watch what I wanted to watch on TV to much deeper, painful infractions done by people I loved and trusted. In countless ways, Jesus’ gift in sharing these words which have been so deeply ingrained in our memories – can and should move us to deeper personal reflection, dialogue and more importantly love – with Our Father.