Gospel: Mt 6:7-15
When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do; for they believe that, the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask him.
This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven,
holy be your name,
your kingdom, come,
your will, be done
on earth, as in heaven.
Give us today, our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we forgive those who are in debt to us.
Do not bring us to the test,
but deliver us from the evil one.
If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.
Most Christians misunderstand the Our Father’s first petition, “Holy be your name,” as an indirect exhortation for us to respect God’s name, not to swear, etc. But, if we analyze this petition technically, it refers to God’s action: let your name be made holy by you.
But what does this mean? Well, first of all we have to remember that, in Hebrew thought, the name stands for one’s reputation. Secondly, the expression “sanctify the name of God” is exclusively God’s prerogative (humans can do many things to God’s name, but in the Old Testament they never sanctify it!). So we are praying here that God sanctify his name. But what does that mean? The background for this petition is found in many texts of Ezekiel in which God swears he will sanctify (make holy) his Name, which Israel has profaned; by freeing his exiled people and bring it back to Palestine. In other words, when we ask God to “sanctify his name,” we ask him to act powerfully in our human history, as many times in the past he did so in the history of Israel.
Thus the first three petitions of the Our Father express one single request: that God may transform our fallen world into a redeemed, beautiful world.
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