17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
What Jesus Taught in the Our Father
When He taught the Lord’s Prayer to His disciples, Jesus showed them what the act of prayer could encompass. He wanted it to be accessible. When I taught the Lord’s Prayer to the elementary school kids, I told them it was like writing a letter to God.
The word Jesus used for Father was the equivalent of Daddy—He wanted the disciples to be comfortable with God—so Our Father really means, “Dear Daddy!” But, just because we are comfortable, Jesus didn’t want us to forget that everything about God is holy. “Hallowed be thy name,” points to God—He’s so holy, He’s at the top. But He also lives here with us too—His kingdom is everywhere. Our job is to help His kingdom be more fully realized here.
I thought about the line, “Give us this day our daily bread,” carefully. It’s loaded! I think Jesus wanted to remind us God wants us to talk to Him, to ask for things, but we should not get greedy—don’t ask for things too far in advance (daily bread not a lifetime supply of it). Obviously, we ask for what we know we need, like bread. But what about Him, His presence? By asking for the Eucharistic bread, we also ask for Jesus to be with us at the most basic level.
God has already forgiven us, so I wrestled with the line “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive…” But then I realized if we haven’t forgiven those who have hurt us, there’s no room for God’s love. We either get to have God’s love OR our anger—it’s our choice.
Temptation, I told the kids, is different from evil. When we ask to be kept from temptation, we ask that God give us strength to say “no” to the things we should refuse. Evil, on the other hand, is usually something we can’t control. In a perfect world, God would keep all evil things from us. But this isn’t a perfect world, so we ask Him to be with us through the bad things.
In kid-friendly language, the Our Father looks like:
Dear Daddy, who lives in heaven AND on Earth,
You are amazing!
I hope that everyone will love You so Your kingdom will be as big on earth as it is in heaven.
Please give me the things I need and please stay with me forever.
Help me forgive so there’s room for me to feel Your love.
Give me strength to stay away from things I shouldn’t do.
Protect me from bad things—send me away from them or be with me during them.
Then, there’s the Amen. Amen, I told the kids, means “So be it.” It’s like signing your name at the end of a letter—your name means you really believe what you have written. So, if the Our Father is a letter to God, then it ends with the words, “Love, Ansley.” (Fill in your name.)
Are you ready to sign your name to the prayer? It’s a powerful commitment!