Formed by the words of Prayer, from the lips of God
Today, as we receive Christ, really and fully present in the Eucharist – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – the supernatural life we received at baptism is strengthened.
In this Sunday's Gospel reading, we listen as Jesus teaches his disciples to pray. He instructs them in the words of the Lord's Prayer, and then he tells two parables that drive home the importance of persistence and boldness in the prayer of his disciples.
The Lord's Prayer is much more than just a prayer that we say, it is also meant to be a prayer that we live. Saint Cyprian of Carthage, a third century bishop and martyr wrote, "My dear friends, the Lord's Prayer contains many great mysteries of our faith. In these few words there is great spiritual strength, for this summary of divine teaching contains all of our prayers and petitions."  In the twentieth century, Pope Benedict XVI observed, "The meaning of the Our Father goes much further than the mere provision of a prayer text. It aims to form our being, to train us in the inner attitude of Jesus."  When we pray the Lord's Prayer we enter into the world of Jesus and into the depths of his relationships with God and with others. We begin to view life, God, others, and ourselves through divinely enabled understanding. Praying these words with attention entails a training in vision.
It seems to me that the Lord's Prayer invites us to adopt the attitudes of commitment and trust. We begin not with ourselves but with a larger vision -- asking that God's name be held holy and immersing ourselves in commitment to the coming of God's reign. We transcend our own small worlds and look at the bigger picture. The reign of God for which we pray refers to what takes place when the rule of a gracious, faithful, loving God permeates creation and human relationships. Cardinal Walter Kasper speaks of the reign of God as the sovereignty of God's love. As we pray these words, we commit ourselves to live as agents, as mediators of the sovereignty of God's love. In a time in which our nation seems so divided, and gun violence wreaks havoc in our cities, no other commitment could be more important.
The commitment that is intrinsic to the Lord's Prayer is meant to be suffused with an attitude of trust. This trust is implied in the very word that begins this prayer -- "Father." Uttering this word draws us into Jesus' own unique relationship with the God he called "Abba." Jesus used the language of the home to address God. Scripture scholars suggest that "Abba" meant something like "my own dear Father." Reflecting on Jesus' "Abba" address of God, Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff observes that it suggests that "God has a heart that is sensitive to our problems, that his eye is always upon our sufferings, and that his ear is open to our cries." The God revealed by Jesus is One to whom we can come with unrestricted trust.
This same atmosphere of commitment and trust permeates the other petitions of the Lord's Prayer. In praying for our "daily bread," we ask God simply and directly to give us all that we need to live and to follow the Lord Jesus in our lives. We move on to petition God for mercy, at the same time pledging to forgive those who have hurt us. We know that we depend completely on the loving mercy of God, and we confess that with honesty and trust. Finally, we pray that God will not "subject us to the final test." Here we acknowledge our weakness in the face of trials and temptations. We ask for the grace we need to be faithful to the God who is tenaciously faithful to us.
As we approach the table of the Lord this Sunday and at every Mass in which we fully participate, may we re-commit ourselves to be instruments of the sovereignty of God's love in our world. And may we receive the Lord with trust, confident that "God has a heart that is sensitive to our problems, that his eye is always upon our sufferings, and that his ear is open to our cries."
 From a Treatise on the Lord's Prayer by St. Cyprian of Carthage, bishop and martyr
(Nn. 8-9: CSEL 3, 271-272)
 Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, 133.
Fr. Blair Gaynes has been in the Diocese since 2008.