Reflections

Tuesday in the 1st Week of Lent, February 23, 2021

THE LORD’S PRAYER—-OUR FATHER
Introduction
God speaks his word to people in many ways: first of all, his word-in-action, that is, his saving deeds; his words written down in the Bible again, more the language of action than of words; the words he speaks through other people, through prophets past and present, through human encounters. Above all, God speaks his living Word, Jesus Christ.
God’s word can be heard only and find resonance when it takes on flesh and blood – when it becomes incarnate – in the lives of people and vibrates with human thought and feeling. If so, one can respond to it with prayerful words of recognition and with the living prayer of deeds. Prayer is our echo to God’s word and so are our deeds.
In this Eucharistic celebration God speaks his word to us in the readings and he gives us his living Word in the Eucharistic bread.
 
Opening Prayer
Lord God,
you speak your mighty word to us,
but we cannot hear it
unless it stirs our lives
and is spoken in human terms.
Keep speaking your word to us, Lord,
and open our hearts to it,
that it may bear fruit in us
when we do your will
and carry out what we are sent to do.
We ask you this through your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
 
1 Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11
Thus says the LORD: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down And do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, Giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.
 
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19
R. (18b) From all their distress God rescues the just.
 
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears. R.
 
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him. R.
 
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth. R.
 
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. R.
 
Gospel Acclamation: Matthew 4:4B
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
 
Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This is how you are to pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. “If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
 
Commentary
We don’t have to invent a “prayer wheel.” It seems that every time a group prays together, prayers are always being added. Jesus today warns us against multiplying prayers and gives us an example of prayer in as direct and simple a fashion as one could imagine. His prayer is brief but very comprehensive.
Isaiah tells us today that the word of God does not fail. Nothing that God wills or executes is done in vain. It accomplishes its purpose just as surely as does the rain or snow. The prayer of Jesus is equally efficacious.
The Lord’s Prayer has two major divisions. The first part deals with God and his concerns. We pray that his person be honoured and revered (“Hallowed be thy name”), that the full establishment of his kingdom, rooted in uprightness and justice be brought to fruition (“Thy kingdom come”). The second part of the prayer deals with our needs. It is remarkably encompassing. We pray that our daily needs be met (“Give us our daily bread”) that we overcome our faults and stand in grace (“Forgive us our sins”). In addition, we pray to be delivered from the final test between good and the powers of evil and find ourselves always on the side of God.
There is a Matthean caveat after the prayer, underscoring the importance of forgiveness. This oft-repeated warning never fails to touch our conscience. We can hardly ask God to forgive us if we fail to forgive others.
There are various moments in every day when we can pray the Lord’s Prayer. As the only prayer that Christ has taught us, it always has priority and is so all-embracing that any need can fit.
The Lord has eyes for the just, and ears for their cries.
 
Intercessions
That God’s word may be echoed in us in our prayers and in the good we do to others, we pray:
That we may be always close to God’s living Word, Jesus Christ, and that he may be the center of our life, we pray:
That we may be prayerful people, who pray not only for our personal needs but also for those of the Church and of the world, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Our Father in heaven,
you speak to us your living Word,
your Son Jesus Christ,
and you give him to us as bread to be eaten.
With him, may we respond to you
with words of prayer on our lips and in our hearts
and with the living words
of our loyal service and love.
May this be our offering to you today
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Our Father in heaven,
we praise your holy name
for speaking to us in the scriptures
and in your Son Jesus Christ.
May your word not return empty to you,
but give us the strength of your Son
to let our deeds speak to you,
that what we have promised and offered in prayer
may become real in our lives.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen!
 
Blessing
God’s word must take shape in our lives. What we have heard, we must live. God’s Son must become visible and speak in what we are and do. May God bless you all for this, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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