THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: The Communion Rite – The Lord’s Prayer (2)

The Lord’s Prayer

“…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

After hallowing the Father’s name and asking for our daily bread and preparing for the Bread of Life, we also ask forgiveness for those times when we haven’t respected him or others, and express our willingness to imitate his mercy. This petition evokes the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35), a parable given in response to Peter’s question about how often we should forgive.

We can imagine that unforgiving servant as being Adam after the Fall: he owed so much (10,000 talents in the original Greek, the equivalent wages of 160,000 years of labor) that not only was his freedom and property forfeit, but that of his entire family as well. With no freedom and no “capital” he’d never be able to repay his debt. Adam and Eve cost all of humanity their communion with God due their sin; the rest of us didn’t commit it, but we suffered its consequences, and still do. The Lord, like the king in the parable, forgave the whole debt. Everything the servant deserved to lose, he retained, due to the king’s mercy, even though he’d squandered so much.

How does the servant respond? He decides to turn a new leaf in life by becoming a loan shark collecting on his old debts. The amount his fellow servant owed him was infinitesimal (one percent) compared to what he’d just been forgiven. His repentance was shown to be short lived.

We’ve received a priceless gift of mercy through faith and Baptism. We can never repay that debt. When someone wrongs us, we have to remember that no matter how much they’ve wronged us it’s nothing compared to how much the Lord has forgiven us and continues to forgive us. So we ask for forgiveness while renewing an attitude of forgiveness.

“…and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

The Catechism defines temptation as, “an attraction, either from outside oneself or from within, to act contrary to right reason and the commandments of God.” Due to original sin and our own sins, evil exercises an attraction that we must fight against, and we know we can’t fight it alone. It’s an internal battle as much as it is an external one, and temptation is the first assault, as St. James reminds us: “Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death” (James 1:12–15).

Sin is the consequence of those who have succumbed to temptation, and the evil that results has dire effects not only on those directly involved, but on the whole world. St. John Paul II spoke of the “structures of sin” that result from selfish and sinful behavior (cf. encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 37) and cause a host of social ills. We prepare to receive the Eucharist asking not only to be kept free from evil, but to be delivered from all its effects, spiritual or otherwise.

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