Prayer of the Pilgrim
Today’s liturgy is all about prayer. It invites us to have an intimate relationship with God. Speaking on prayer, Saint Teresa of Avila said, “… prayer, in my opinion, is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us” (The Book of Her Life). Prayer, therefore, is an essential aspect of our communion with God.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches His disciples what to pray and how to pray. Jesus exhibits a unique level of intimacy with God whom He calls as His Father. As the Son of the Father, He knows His God very well and He can choose to reveal Him to anybody He chooses (Lk 10:22). Now, in today’s scripture, Jesus gives that privilege to His own disciples – to address God as their Father. In Aramaic, the word ‘Abba’ has a deeper connotation; it indicates ‘a deeper family bond’. The Jewish family was very patriarchal – centered and grounded around the patriarchal figure of ‘Abba’. When Jesus introduces God as our ‘Abba’, He makes us all members of the heavenly family.
In the Lukan Gospel, there are five petitions in the prayer of ‘Our Father’ – the first two relate to God and the last three are requests for His constant intervention in our life. This prayer thoroughly expresses our total dependence on God, for He alone is the source of every life. The more we experience this life-giving presence of God with us (Father- Hallowed be your name) and live according to His designs (Your kingdom come), the better the quality of life we live here on this earth.
The prayer ‘Our Father’, is fully centered on God and focuses on our future salvation. It is also called the prayer of New Exodus. When we pray asking God to establish His kingdom, we are asking Him to bring salvation to this world through the death and resurrection of Christ who has become our daily bread. The petition, ‘give us each day our daily bread’, means, provide for our need for sustenance today, tomorrow, and always. Like ‘manna’ during the old exodus sustained the life of the chosen people, we pray to God to give us Jesus, His Son as our food for our present exodus.
We are sojourners on this earth and our true home is with Our Father in heaven. The prayer of Jesus is our prayer for the journey (our Exodus). It contains everything that is needed for our pilgrimage.
– Fr. Ranjan D’Sa