Today Jesus teaches us how to pray, let us open our hearts to learn how to relate to Our Heavenly Father. Before I begin my homily, I ask each of you to think how you would describe your earthly father, if you know who he is, and what your relationship with him was or is like.
For some of you your fathers are a generous and loving man who is always there for you and so you probably have a strong relationship with him, maybe even he’s one of your best friends. Others might say your father was busy at work providing for his family but emotionally not as present, and your relationship with your father is just OK. Maybe you would say that you know your dad loves you, but he loves you in his own way. Some dads can be authoritative and intimidating in relation to their children. Still for others, their father might have been physically or emotionally abusive, he did not show love like he should have because he did not how to love; and so their relationship with their father is distant.
The reason I asked you to think about your earthly father and your relationship with him, is because many people, sometimes unknowingly, project how they relate with their earthly father to their Heavenly Father. For those who have a strong loving relationship with your dad, do you see that he is an image of our Heavenly Father. But for those who have just an OK relationship with your dad, or for those whose father was distant or didn’t show his love as you needed him to, you are called to be like St Therese of Lisieux, who when she was the age of 4, her mother died. And looking up into the eyes of the statue of Mary on her dresser said, “you must be my mother now”. For those who do not have a loving or close relationship your earthly father, you have a Heavenly Father who wants to make up for and fill the void of love you should have received from him.
Now let us look at the first part of the prayer Jesus teaches us: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. We are taught to call God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, our Father. We are called to be in an intimate and loving relationship with the all-knowing, all-powerful God. But this relationship should not be lackadaisical or casual, for Jesus teaches us to remember who He is. Our Father is in Heaven. Our relationship with Him should not be like our earthly relationships, so often temperamental and wavering. But we should treat Him as the all-powerful God who can and wants to bring us to be with Him in the fulfillment of Heaven.
Likewise, the one we call Father is the Holy God. His name is Holy, and we are called to make his name holy- in us. We should have reverence and awe that we are invited to be in relationship with the Holy One, so that He can make us holy.
We pray, your kingdom come. We are asking God to let his kingdom reign in us, we are submitting ourselves under His Lordship.
Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. We are surrendering our human will to His divine will, we are asking not my will, but yours be done. We are asking that just as His will is always good and perfect, and Heaven is ordered perfectly, so may His will be done in us. We pray that our lives on earth may be ordered perfectly toward the Good.
So the all-knowing, all-powerful God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, wants to be in an intimate relationship with us. A relationship in which He is our Perfect Father, and we are to be his children. What an amazing gift that is, we are able to know and be in an intimate relationship as His children with the Heavenly Father, through and with Jesus. This relationship must be the foundation of our prayer.
At the end of our Gospel, Jesus says that whoever seeks, will find, and whoever asks, will receive. And that our Father knows and wants to give everything that is good for us. But do you feel you receive from God? Have you received everything you have asked Him for, or do you feel like many times you ask and ask and ask, but there is no response? Yes, as the analogy of the friend in our Gospel who will give what his friend asks for because of persistent asking, is saying that God will give if we are persistent in prayer. And by God not giving the first time every time does cause us to desire and trust Him the more. But have you ever wondered why so often it seems to take so long for you to receive what you ask for?
I think the answer is in the kind of relationship we have with God. If we have the kind of relationship where all we are doing is asking God for things, what kind of friendship is that? How would you feel if your friend was only concerned about what you can do for them? Would you feel used and underappreciated? God desires an intimate relationship with Him, but a relationship in which we have respect and reverence for who He is, and not try to abuse His generosity.
If we really get the first part of the ‘Our Father’ down, if we are desiring His kingdom to reign in us and that we are seeking to do His will, then we will be in right relationship. If we truly know God as our loving Father who wants to give us everything that is good to His children, and indeed that everything God does, even if it is remaining silent for a time, is for our good, then we are in right relationship. So let us ask Jesus to continue to show us how we can grow in our right relationship with our Heavenly Father.BACK TO LIST