Today’s gospel is Matthew’s version of the Our Father, possibly the best known (and most loved?) prayer in Christianity.
At the same time, it is also the case that for many of us it “suffers” from precisely that, i e. it is so familiar that we can easily pray it and our minds are anywhere BUT focused on the content of this prayer.
For those of you for whom this is the case, I offer you in what follows a “fleshed out” version of this wonderful prayer by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, a well known spiritual writer. I think you will find it at least as pertinent today as it was when he wrote it in 1998.
Our Father … who always stands with the weak, the powerless, the poor, the abandoned, the sick, the aged, the very young, the unborn, and those who, by victim of circumstances, bear the heat of the day.
Who art in heaven … where everything will be reversed, where the first will be last, and the last will be first, but where all will be well and every manner of being will be well.
Hallowed be thy name … may we always acknowledge your holiness, respecting that your ways are not our ways, your standards are not our standards. May the reverence we give your name pull us out of the selfishness that prevents us from seeing the pain of our neighbor.
Your kingdom come … help us to create a world where, beyond our own needs and hurts, we will do justice, love tenderly, and walk humbly with you and each other.
Your will be done … open our freedom to let you in so that the complete mutuality that characterizes your life might flow through our veins and thus the life that we help generate may radiate your equal love for all and your special love for the poor.
On earth as in heaven … may the work of our hands, the temples and structures we build in this world, reflect the temple and the structure of your glory so that the joy, graciousness, tenderness, and justice of heaven will show forth within all of our structures on earth.
Give … life and love to us and help us to see always everything as gift. Help us to know that nothing comes to us by right and that we must give because we have been given to. Help us realize that we must give to the poor, not because they need it, but because our own health depends upon our giving to them.
Us … the truly plural us. Give not to just our own but to everyone, including those who are very different than the narrow us. Give your gifts to all of us equally.
This day … not tomorrow. Do not let us push things off into some indefinite future so that we can continue to live our justified lives in the face of injustice because we can make good excuses for our inactivity.
Our daily bread … so that each person in the world may have enough food, enough clean water, enough clean air, adequate health care, and sufficient access to education so as to have the sustenance for a healthy life. Teach us to give from our sustenance and not just from our surplus.
And forgive us our trespasses … forgive us our blindness toward our neighbor, our self-preoccupation, our racism, our sexism, and our incurable propensity to worry only about ourselves and our own. Forgive us our capacity to watch the evening news and do nothing about it.
As we forgive those who trespass against us … help us to forgive those who victimize us. Help us to mellow out in spirit, to not grow bitter with age, to forgive the imperfect parents and systems that wounded, cursed, and ignored us.
And do not put us to the test … do not judge us only by whether we have fed the hungry, given clothing to the naked, visited the sick, or tried to mend the systems that victimized the poor. Spare us this test for none of us can stand before your gospel scrutiny. Give us, instead, more days to mend our ways, our selfishness, and our systems.
But deliver us from evil … that is, from the blindness that lets us continue to participate in anonymous systems within which we need not see who gets less as we get more. Amen
From The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser, copyright @1998