The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no, 74)
Overhearing Jesus Pray . . .
“Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us
to pray'. And he said to them, 'When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven . . .'” (Luke 11:1-2; Cf. Matt 6:9
-13). The first words of the Lord’s prayer are no longer a shock. Millions assume that “our Father” is a
universal and generic way of speaking to God, perhaps an obvious synonym for “God”. So, in receiving
this prayer from our Lord, the first thing we need to know is its specific origin in the Christian revelation.
That the eternal Creator condescends to be addressed by us as “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6) is anything but a
universal religious truism. As the Liturgy of the Holy Mass teaches us, it is only “As the Savior taught us,
and formed by divine teaching” [that] we dare to say” Our Father.
Whose Father? . . .
The primary relationship with which the gospel is concerned is not the one between Jesus and his
followers, but rather the relationship between Jesus and the One he alone addresses as “My Father” (Matt. 26:39 ff; John 14:1-7). In drawing the disciples to himself Jesus desires to give them his own relationship to his Father. He desires to share with them his own “Spirit of Sonship” (Gal. 4:6). The Son desires to include us in his own love for the Father, and in the Father's love for him. When he places on our lips his Abba, Father, Jesus is giving us infinitely more than a devotional formula to memorize. He is offering us his own intimacy with his Father; he is drawing us into the ceaseless “conversation” between the Father and the Son.
Praying Within the Fellowship of the Divine Love . . .
“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to
whom the Son reveals him” (Matt. 11:27; see also John 1:18). Christ never leaves you to pray on your
own. When you pray his prayer, he is always praying in you and with you, sharing with you his intimacy
with his Father. For it is only through the Son that we can know the Father. At the same time, when you
pray “Our Father” in unison with Jesus and in his Name, the Father is showing you the Son. He is
revealing to you how to pray and to live as a child of the Father.
So it is that to pray in faith, “Our Father”, is to be held by God’s grace within the never-failing exchange
of love between Jesus and his Father.
Within the “frame” of the Our Father is revealed everything you ever need to pray for yourself or for
another. The whole prayer life of the Church on earth and in heaven is included within this prayer of the
Son, Who lives and reigns with the Father, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
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