Friday, July 19, 2013

The Lord's Prayer -- "Our"

A while ago, I saw blogger Sarah Reinhard take apart the "Hail Mary" word by word on The Snoring Scholar.  I LOVED the idea, and I want to do the same thing with "The Lord's Prayer".  Taking each word, one at a time, not only slows down the prayer to a thoughtful, reflective pace, but it forces us to delve deeper into the rich meaning behind each and every word.

Just about everyone knows the prayer, but just in case, here it is straight from St. Luke's gospel, Chapter 11, versus 2-4 (NAB). I've chosen this version with the five petitions rather than the version found in Matthew's gospel, which is a more developed version with seven petitions, because it's believed this shorter version may be closer to Jesus's actual words.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
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 forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.

And so we begin with "Our". 

It is unbelievably awesome that Jesus would have looked at the apostles and told them to address God as Our, not My Father.  Jesus is pretty generous with His family, as we saw when he gave us His Mother Mary on Calvary. I wonder that the apostle's didn't faint. Maybe they did but opted not to report it because they thought it would make embarrassing copy. 

Our.  Not my. 

So every time I'm tempted to refer to God with a proprietary air, I must humbly recall that Our includes everyone. He is Father to us all. And that's where it gets tricky. It's an all-inclusive word in a world that prefers to segregate between us and them.

That person on Facebook who regularly annoys me with hateful comments and political commentary?  God's his Father too. And that fanatical Muslim killing Coptic Christians in Egypt? And that woman screaming "Hail Satan!" at abortion protesters?  He's their Father, too.  Refusing to acknowledge your Father doesn't make you an orphan. 

If we look at, say, that abortion protester and realize she's a child of God, it makes it easier not to condemn her.  We're all sinners who struggle against our human nature, and she's just losing the battle. Hopefully, it's a temporary setback, and that's why she needs our prayers.

Remember when your sibling would do something wrong and you'd be ready to mete out punishment? And your parent would say, "I'll take care of it." And sometimes you'd be incensed because you felt they got off lightly? It can be the same situation with God, but it's His prerogative to judge people, not ours. We may judge actions--murder is wrong--but we don't get to judge people. And isn't it a relief that it's not our job?

Our. Yours and mine. Humility is remembering the yours  part. 

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