Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
(Isaiah 55:10-11; Matthew 6:7-15)
The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel comprises what scholars call a parenesis. This Greek term means a spiritual exhortation with a program of moral imperatives. The section begins with Jesus explicating the goal of life, which is always happiness or beatitude. It proceeds with his heightening the Law of Moses to embrace the imperatives of a truly God-like lifestyle. After elaborating the goal and the way of life, Jesus indicates in today’s gospel the assistance that is necessary to proceed.
Addressing God confidently by calling Him “Father,” the “Lord’s Prayer” beseeches God to create an environment where one may act righteously. In a world where God’s name is revered, His kingdom is realized, and His will accomplished, walking an extra mile and loving one’s enemy do not seem like such daunting tasks. Then the prayer asks for more specific aids: bread, both the natural and supernatural kinds; forgiveness of faults, which plague people even in a truly just society; and liberation from trials that may unravel the entire good one has endeavored to produce.
Many of us say the “Our Father” rather unthinkingly throughout the day. It is good that the words pass through our heads so frequently because when we find ourselves in dire need, they will direct us to where our help come from. It is also eminently beneficial that we reflect on the words once in a while so that we may realize how we need our Father’s assistance if we are going to act like Him.