Luke’s Gospel was written 50 years after the death of Jesus, for the Christian community in Antioch. There are six major messages: prayer, hospitality, compassion, forgiveness, the common life and care for the outsider. All these are expressed or implied in THE LORD’S PRAYER. It should be our ANCHOR.
This is a prayer of few words, depending on the translation (38-40 words). It is an example on how a few sentences have changed history. It is a prayer we should keep saying with urgency and meaning. It is a call to action. “Ask, and it will be given to you”. In this prayer, we declare that we belong to God as members of his family, and therefore we belong to each other. We pray that God’s Kingdom will come here and now, and, through our gratitude for God’s generosity and forgiveness, we can be saved from evil
It is a prayer where HEAVEN and EARTH coincide. We pray that the realms of Heaven and Earth become indistinguishable because humans share God’s way of seeing and doing things. We must not lose sight of the message because the challenge to the Kingdom is here and now.
Jesus identifies two areas which we need to focus on to help make Heaven and Earth simultaneous.
1. ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’
This petition is very real for most inhabitants of the world – a plea for the necessities of life to stave off real hunger. Remember the war in Ukraine is bringing starvation or malnutrition to millions in Africa and Asia. Forty percent of the World Food Program’s wheat supplies come from Ukraine.
Many of us in this nation have never suffered the hunger of starvation. There is an indigenous Norwegian proverb “the person who hasn’t experienced need doesn’t understand what need means.” How true.
When Jesus was moved with compassion at the sight of a hungry crowd of five thousand he could have done nothing without the generosity of a little boy who handed over his few loaves and fishes. The call for daily bread can only be answered if each of us respond with practical compassion to the plight of those in need. What will we do?? What did we do last Project Compassion, or the last annual St. Vincent de Paul collection? How do we bring a just peace to Ukraine so that food supplies can again be exported?
2. ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ (Matthew’s version)
In Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice” Portia says ‘The quality of Mercy is not strained. It falleth as the gentle rain of Heaven on to the place beneath.’
We have to be able to absorb the gentle rain of mercy and forgiveness. If we develop a harshness of heart which refuses to show mercy and forgiveness ourselves, then we are like concrete and unable to absorb God’s mercy and forgiveness into our own lives. To be the sort of people who can receive God’s forgiveness, we need to have done something of the same, otherwise God’s forgiveness cannot resonate within us. Sometimes we must first forgive ourselves.
We, as Australian Christians, need to pray the Lord’s Prayer daily. It is so easy to allow our faith lives to become compartmentalised. Do not become a person whose religious belief and practice fits into a nice little box that has no discernible influence on the rest of their lives.
Long-lasting solutions to our nation’s problems and the worlds are those that embody this prayer of Jesus. On every occasion selfishness, racism, sexism, bigotry, violence and greed are unacceptable. The homeless need homes; the detained refugees a real welcome, pensioners a liveable income.
Our recent Australian Churches Plenary council picks up many of these issues. I’ll highlight two
The place of women in the Church
Paragraph 54: …this Plenary Council commits the Church to enhancing the role of women in the Church, and to overcoming assumptions, culture, practices and language that lead to inequality.
The place of our First Nations peoples.
Paragraph 22… this Plenary Council endorses the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
This is the Gospel. Christ expects nothing less of all of us. Let’s be worthy of the one prayer which unites us and pray fervently that all people everywhere will become one – in Christ – under our one Father in heaven. It’s a call to action.
The challenge is to identify an action and follow through with it.
• Do I pray the Our Father each day?
• Do I welcome the visitor or stranger in our Church?
• Have I supported the work of Caritas, Catholic Mission, St. Vincent de Paul?
• When I’ve seen the homelessness in Frankston, what was my response?
Remember, the Our Father is a call to action.
Rev Deacon Pattison