Readings and Reflection for March 8 (Tuesday in the First Week of Lent)

Assumption University

A Delightful Lenten Journey

Click the arrow below to hear a member of the Assumption community read today’s Gospel.

Backward step to the Father!

A spiritual advisor of the Eastern Church made an amazing suggestion: “[B]egin the Our Father with the last verse, so that one might become worthy to finish the prayer with the initial words—‘Our Father.’” In this way, we would be following the path to Easter. “We begin in the desert with the temptation, we return to Egypt, then we travel the path of the Exodus, through the stations of forgiveness and God’s manna, and by God’s will we attain the promised land, the Kingdom of God, where he communicates to us the mystery of his name: ‘Our Father.’” (Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 135)

The first word

In our daily conversations, the first words we say are very important. They can set the tone of our dialogue. What is true in life is also true in a story or a teaching. In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples and each of us how to pray. The first words of this prayer are very meaningful: Our Father. Jesus asks us to address God as Father. This naming leads us into a relationship: Father and son, father and daughter.

Out of relationship

Our prayer is not first of all about making a request to God. It is essentially a relationship. It is a moment of communion with God. It is a time of conversation, heart to heart. Entering deeper and deeper into relationship with God is the ultimate purpose of our prayer. The more we pray, the more we become familiar with God. And the more we are familiar with God, the more we are confident that he will satisfy our personal needs.

To God and to others

Our prayer, however, does not confine us to an individual relationship with God. From the beginning, it is marked by a double movement: to God and to others. Indeed, Jesus does not teach us to say “my Father,” but “our Father.” When we address God as our father, we recognize then that he is the father of everyone. And so, our openness to God becomes at the same time our openness to ours brothers and sisters everywhere. Our relationship with God is the foundation of our closeness to every member of his family.
Our society considers fraternity an essential value. Sometimes, however, it denies the existence of God or at least, it thinks that God belongs to the private domain. How can we say that we are all brothers and sisters if we do not recognize God as our common Father? This question must be taken seriously if we want to establish an authentic fraternity among us.

Prayer: God, Father of all, help us to build our fraternity upon our common relationship with you.

Resolution: Recite the “Our Father” backward!