His Father is Our Father
The Lord then leads us into His relationship with the Father, inviting us to say with him, Our Father. Through this simple prayer, Jesus shows us what it means to be a beloved son or daughter of God.
In the Our Father, Jesus invites us into a relationship with His Father. We should never cease to be amazed that Jesus invites us to call His Father our Father as well.
This simple prayer that we all know has much to teach us about who God is, what our priorities should be, and how to ask for what we need to live well - forgiveness, strength in temptation, deliverance from sin, evil, and the devil.
The Lord's Prayer claims it culmination here at the Mass. It's here that he gives us something far greater than our daily material bread. He gives us the Body and Blood of the Incarnate Son.
Msgr’s Homily Notes
Today we have two contrasting, dissonant scenes before us. The first is the well-known situation of Sodom and Gomorrah – the two ancient cities that exemplify the sinfulness and evil of the human race, enemies of God as expressed in their not only rejection of Abraham but also in their desire to abuse him and the other friends of God through unnatural acts. The other scene is of Jesus, God the Son incarnate, with His disciples gathered around Him, teaching them to pray. This is the human race, we could say, at its best. How do we move from being the Lord’s enemies, hating Him and His way of life, to being His intimate friends who share everything, most of all His relationship to the Father? How does the Lord bring our dissonant souls into tune, turning us from wrong notes to beautiful melodies in the great cosmic symphony that is His Creation and Redemption?
The key is that middle part, that passage from St. Paul to the Colossians. The Apostle to the Gentiles says that in baptism we were buried with Christ. We undergo a kind of spiritual death. Through conversion the old self dies and a new self rises – the person we were created to be. The good news of the Gospel is that a man does not have to be the man he was; he can be created anew. This re-creation is a free gift from the Lord and it is called conversion – a turning around and going in the other direction. It’s like a shuttle run, get to the end where we must turn around and go the other way. There is that moment of death, of moving in one direction so as to go in the other. More specifically, the change from being an enemy of God to His intimate friend happens by allowing Him to live out His passion, death and resurrection in us. This involves a true death whereby our old self is nailed to the Cross with Jesus, and as this happens, mysteriously, He pours out His supernatural, immortal life into us. So that our blood intermingles with His, our breath is the same as His. The process of conversion is life-long.
Through conversion, the Christian becomes animated by a new spirit, the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ work is such that a new place is created within our souls for God the Holy Spirit to dwell. [Last week we spoke about the center of the soul as a throne where the Lord wants to dwell.] So we are animated, not by one of the muses as the ancients used to think, but by God Himself – the origin of all goodness and beauty. So long as we remain in the state of grace and cultivate being in the state of grace, He dwells within us, animating our souls, giving us strength, meaning and direction in life. For those times we commit mortal sin and expel the Holy Spirit from our souls, the Lord offers us the chance to repent and ask forgiveness in confession.
Then, filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus the Divine Son leads us into His relationship with the Father, inviting us to say with Him, “Our Father”. We should never cease to be amazed that Jesus allows us, and even invites us, to call His Father our Father as well. It means nothing less than He is sharing everything He has and is with us. Imagine the privilege of being able to pray as God the Son does! He gives us His own perfect prayer. “Lord, teach us to pray” is a beautiful, grace-filled desire on the part of those to seek and follow the Lord. And He readily answers that prayer because He wants us in union with Him.
[Something we pray all the time and can take for granted or go through the motions…] In His prayer, the Divine Son teaches us about the proper longings we should have, the types of things we should desire and the proper order of longings that should constitute our prayer. He prioritizes the relationship with the Father, on hallowing His name rather than making a name for ourselves, on His kingdom coming rather than building one for ourselves, on His will being done rather than pretending we are God. This shows us that prayer is not fundamentally about changing God’s plans (and why would we because His plan is perfect), but changing our own to align themselves to what He has ordered for our and others’ eternal good and happiness.
After we have that order set, then He teaches us to ask for things for ourselves and others that we really need. Notice he doesn’t instruct us to ask for a new Camaro, a svelte body or a vacation house. He essentializes our needs. First we ask him to give us each day our daily bread, what we need to live, knowing that he will not forget about our needs tomorrow. In this petition we are asking not only for our earthly sustenance but our spiritual life: the Eucharist. We ask him to forgive us our sins as we forgive others, because we are always in need of his mercy, and he wants to tune us/attune us to be merciful like him by giving us not just the opportunity but the command to be merciful to others like he is to us.
And then Jesus has us pray that we not fall when tempted — because we will face temptations just like Jesus did, but we know that we will not face temptations alone, that he will be there to strengthen us — and that the Father will deliver us from the evil one with his Fatherly protection in this world and forever. (Recent news about the approval of the Italian translation of the Our Father in the Sacred Liturgy clarify that the Lord does not lead us into temptation. Put us not to the test: Pray that you are not put to the test.) Those seven things — first the Father’s holy name, kingdom and will, and then what we need to live, forgiveness, strengthen in temptation and deliverance from sin, evil and the devil — are things Jesus teaches about which we should be regularly be conversing with God in the lifeblood of Christian life we call prayer.
“Lord, teach us to pray.” Today we come with that request and Jesus once teaches us. He wants us not to be mediocre Christians but saints. We wants us not to have a shallow prayer and spiritual life but a deep one. [Start by really thinking about when we pray the Our Father, put our whole heart and soul into that prayer, pray it often, go about my day conscious of the relationship with the Father I have been given - nothing too great or too small, everything.] Our Lord’s prayer finds its culmination in the Mass. We know that Jesus’ greatest prayer was the one he said from the Upper Room and from the Cross, the prayer into which we enter live in time whenever we celebrate the sacred liturgy. At Mass we enter into his own filial prayer to the Father. It’s here that we pray with perseverance, in his name, having reconciled with him and others. It’s here that we seek the glorification of his name, the coming of his kingdom, the doing of his will, as we do this in his memory. It’s here that he gives us something far greater than our daily material bread: His very Body and Blood that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. It’s here that he strengthens us for trials and temptations, fortifies us to forgive, and bolsters us against the wiles of the evil one. And so let us turn as beloved sons and daughters with Jesus to God the Father and ask him, with all the dispositions about praying well that Jesus revealed, to send the Holy Spirit to teach us how to pray this Mass together with Jesus so that our whole life may turn into a continual extension of this prayer.
The Holy Spirit makes all things beautiful – that beautiful music issues forth from a beautiful heart, a heart that is made alive by conversion, sharing in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus and blossoms in prayer. The Holy Spirit can enter the heart and turn the darkest most dissonant places into harmonious light. He turns the hardened sinner and enemy of God into an intimate friend who even takes on the divine likeness. This is what He wishes to do in us. Let us avail ourselves to this holy work, that our lives may be rewritten into beautiful notes in the Lord’s amazing symphony of salvation.