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I’m My Father’s Child
Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
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 others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I sometimes say this sacred prayer like a pagan, mouthing the words without thinking. Help me to renew my love for the “Our Father” during this time of reflection.
- Hearts That Love: A group of women went on a mission trip to Haiti. Their chaplain had the day planned out, from the arrival at the airport, to braving the Port-au-Prince traffic, to a short visit to the orphanage they would often be helping at during the week. They could stop there only a half-hour if they wanted to get back through the traffic before nine o’clock at night. His plan failed. As soon as the doors to the orphanage opened, three hundred little babies stretched out their arms to the women. With one baby on each arm and another on their knee, the women cuddled and comforted each child until the last one had felt loved enough to fall asleep. Only then would the ladies get back in the van for their first night’s rest. Like these ladies, our hearts don’t weigh up reasons for loving. Our hearts know and feel exactly what has to be done when a need arises. It’s just natural. Theologians often speak of natural law to explain morality, saying that God has inspired our human nature toward the natural goods he asks of us. That’s very intellectual. At a more spiritual or heartfelt level, God has placed desires and loves in us that mirror the love that is found in his Infinite Heart.
- God Is Good: He who is “the One who is good” looked over creation and “saw that it was very good.” Whatever is good in us is a reflection of the goodness in him. And so when we feel the beautiful tug in our hearts, like the natural need to pick up a baby, to hold and console the weakest of human beings, we feel a small piece of God’s longing to console the weak and sorrowful. Jesus wants us to know that’s how prayer works. It’s not a big theological speech, or the same words repeated over and over again as if time spent praying equals connecting with God. It’s a small person, a little child of God lifting our arms to him and showing our need. It’s a cry from our heart to His. It’s not about constantly asking God for our daily bread and for forgiveness. It’s about showing our need to Our Father in the same way a baby is unafraid to ask for food and for comfort. And the Father loves to feel that pull, in the same way we love for a baby to look to us.
- We Pray in Unison: When we pray the “Our Father” at Mass, the priest lifts his arms on behalf of all the church. God sees his children stretching out their arms to him. His heart is touched. If we let him, he’ll run to us and will stay with us until we are comforted. He won’t rest until we are loved enough.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, thank you for these beautiful words of the “Our Father.” I want to pray them as a loving child, or a helpless baby, trusting completely in your divine fatherhood and knowing that you answer my prayers according to your most holy will.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will remember to have a childlike disposition before you.
For Further Reflection: The Catechism of the Catholic Church on “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Father Simon Cleary, LC, is the chaplain at Mano Amiga Academy in the Philippines. The school provides underprivileged children programs that promote values formation, skills and health development, and other services tailored to the needs of the community. Visit www.manoamigaph.org to learn more.