Today’s homily is a bit of a mystagogy on this familiar experience we have of praying the Lord’s Prayer. Mystagogy is a kind of reflecting back on the mysteries. Once we have experienced the mysteries and practices and rituals of our faith, it is important for us to reflect back on them, to see what they mean, and how they have changed us. We have all prayed the Lord’s Prayer thousands of times, and we continue to do so not because we delight in the multiplicity of words, but instead because we have been changed by our praying, as the disciples were changed when they were given this beautiful prayer for the first time.
The opening of the prayer – “Our Father” – has in its time moved us into relationship with the One who made us. We were created for God, and God earnestly desires us to be one with him. Acknowledging this relationship by proclaiming “Our Father” tells us that we have come from God, will one day return to God, and that we daily exist in God. It also reminds us that, by using the word “our”, the faith we have is one that is corporate. We can only come to God together, because we were made to be in community every bit as much as the Holy Trinity is a community.
The middle of the prayer has helped us to rely on God. “Give us this day our daily bread.” We accept what we need – not necessarily what we want – from God who is able and willing to provide for our sustenance day in and day out. It might be a difficult road and daily we may desire much more than we need, but as we reflect on our past, we may in fact see the hand of God holding us up through bad times, and helping us dance through the good times.
And finally we come to know the healing power of our God. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation.” When we let go of the things that have a hold on us, we can experience the loving embrace of Our Father. When we release our hold on others, we find ourselves open to the grace of God.
As we offer this beautiful prayer later in this Liturgy, may we all open our minds and hearts to reflect with joy on the Lord’s Prayer and its effect on our spiritual lives.