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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Matthew 6, 7-15

'In your prayers do not babble as the gentiles do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard.

Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

So you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy,

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.

And do not put us to the test, but save us from the Evil One.

'Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours;

but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

During this time of Lent the liturgy offers pages of the Gospel that are among the most significant. They help us grow in our inner life. Therefore every day we should let our minds to be instructed and our hearts warmed by the word of the Gospel. Today Jesus gives us the gift of his prayer: the Our Father. First of all, he warns us about the fact that prayer is not saying many words as if their number was important; it is our hearts that are relevant. He wants to show us the way instead of direct prayer, the one that immediately comes to the heart of God. No one else but him could teach it. Only he, he is the perfect Son who knows the Father in depth. For this, loving his disciples with a love without limits, he teaches them the highest prayer that God cannot help but listen. And we understand it from the first word: “abbà” (dad). With this simple word – it is the one that all little children say to their father -- Jesus makes a real religious revolution compared to the Jewish tradition which could not even call the holy name of God: Jesus involves us in his intimacy with his Father. He is not “lowering down” his Father, we are rather lifted up to heaven, to the very heart of God who is “in heaven”, so much so that we call Him “dad”. The Father, even though in heaven, is the one who embraces us. Jesus does not say, and he could have, “My Father”, but “Our Father.” We are used to say “My Father;” at times we build God as we want, we ask for ourselves and a little for others, as if each one had his/her God. But the God of Jesus is the father of “us,” of the whole humanity. No one can take Him for him/herself, for his/her own use. Therefore it is right to do the will of a Father like Him; it is right to ask for His kingdom to come soon, the time when the holiness of God will be eventually recognized. In the second part of prayer Jesus makes us ask the father to look at our daily life: we ask for bread, bread for our bodies and bread for our hearts. And then we dare with a demanding request - “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This request may seem hard and unreal, as admitting that human forgiving is a model (“as we also have forgiven ...”) for the divine one. Indeed it is a request of extraordinary human wisdom. We understand it in the following verses – “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This language is incomprehensible for a society, as ours, in which forgiveness is rare, if not totally banned, and in any case, rancour is a tree that we cannot eradicate. But perhaps that is why we still need to learn to pray the “Our Father.”

Memory of the Mother of the Lord