February 24, 2015

Gospel MT 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
“If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
Years ago I had a friend, Tony, who ran a machine eight hours a day in a Brockton shoe factory. Nearly a third of his life consisted of repeating one fluid motion, passing slices of leather through the machine, to be stamped.
On the wall of his cubical hung a beautiful picture of his home town in Italy. Tony said, “Jim, sometimes I get so lost in the picture, in my memories and dreams, I have no recollection of having stamped thousands of pieces of leather during my work shift.”
Sad to say, that can be me with the “Our Father.”
Whether praying in community with others, or kneeling with my grandson for bedtime prayer, my mind is often elsewhere.
When I catch my mind wandering, I fight my way back to focusing on Jesus’ words:
“Our Father” the One who created me in His image.
“Who art in Heaven” that mysterious place of union with God.
“Hallowed” revered and respected is the name of God.
“Give us this day our daily bread” reminds me that I live but one day at a time.
“Forgive us our trespasses.” Not simply me but “us” tells me that my prayer is not for me alone but for all who yearn for love and forgiveness.
“As we forgive those who trespass against us” brings to mind the question, “Who am I to hold a grudge, when I have caused others so much grief.”
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” assures me of God’s love. For it is not my Father who tempts, but the evil that still exists in the world that tries to draw me away from my loving God.
May we continue to pray for each other in the words that Jesus gave us: “Our Father….”

“If you forgive men their transgressions,

your heavenly Father will forgive you.”

Matt 6:14