Our Father! Really? - A Reflection on Matthew 6:7-15
This is the only prayer (that we know of) that Jesus taught his apostles. Consequently, it is very precious, and one that calls for much meditation and contemplation. One immediate thing that should strike us, but for some reason doesn’t even though we have prayed this hundreds of times, is that the entire prayer is not the supplicant of an individual seeking blessings for himself, but for everybody. I don’t pray just for myself; when I say this prayer, I am also praying for my brothers and sisters.
This cuts across ALL divides, including the Catholic and Protestant divide, because it is only the Christian who makes this prayer. So whenever I recite this prayer, beginning by saying, “Our Father”, I am acknowledging two things. One, that I am a child of the Father; two, every other believer is also a child of the Father. This attests what John wrote about in his gospel: “But to all who received (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12).
So, if I acknowledge this, then every other Christian is my brother and sister. Brothers and sisters should care for each other, which is why when I ask God to bless me, I ask God to bless them as well. Give US today our daily bread. Forgive US our sins. Do not bring US to the test. Deliver US from the evil one. Now, you might say, I know this; what’s the big deal? The big deal is that if we know this, then why on earth are we always fighting with each other? Why are we constantly trying to pull others down?
Even when it comes to sins — a truly personal matter if there was any; I mean, I am the one committing my sins — I am told not to ask for forgiveness only for myself, but for the forgiveness of all of us. Why? Because we are one body, and like Paul said, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
My faith is not just a matter of establishing a relationship between me and my God. It is about establishing a relationship between each other as well, with God in the center of it. Until we realize this, and start to work towards building such relationships, we will continue to perpetuate divides. And if we are divided, then we are not really part of Christ, no matter what we might claim, which in turn might mean we are not really Christian.
Our Father. Really?