The Gospel Today
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.”
Reflection (Sem. Jul Elden Nuique):
In the King James Version of this passage from Matthew, it says, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Mt 6, 7)” The rest of this pericope is the Our Father, an all-too familiar prayer for Christians. Yet, the opening notice also applies to those who make light of these words left for us by the Lord Jesus. A good question to ask ourselves is, “Do we believe in our hearts that God is our Father?”
My own experience of fatherhood was less than ideal. I came from a family almost completely broken by my father’s marital infidelities and the need for him to work abroad due to financial troubles. His overseas employment began during my infancy up to high school. When we finally spent time together as a complete family, the years apart had driven a wedge between him and his wife and children – we whom he had left behind for a decade. An added challenge to us was his child born out of wedlock and the extramarital affair he had nurtured for a long time. All this unpleasantness affected my idea of father; it definitely got in the way of an immediate healthy patriarchal relationship with God. For a couple of years, I could relate to God as Son, with Jesus, but not to God as Father.
Yet I know that I am not alone in this situation. Many Christians also struggle with God as Father due to painful experiences with human fathers. In my case, it has taken genuine forgiveness of my own father, which is a dying to self, in order to begin a new relationship with God as Father. I acknowledge that in some cases it may be very difficult to let go of pain caused by human fathers. However, if we truly desire to imitate Christ, especially in the love he bears our Heavenly Father, we will do our best to heal our human relationships.