Commentary on the Our Father
By becoming a teacher of prayer and a model of humility, Jesus taught us and prayed this prayer himself
Our Father who art in heaven
Jesus invites us to turn to God as a Father. God is not distant, but he takes care of us as a Father and wants a loving and trusting relationship from us, not detached, just like a father to his child.
The Father is not mine alone, but ours. In praying Jesus wants us to grow in the awareness of being brothers, children of a unique Father and in mutual love. For the same reason the questions of the Our Father are in the plural and not in the singular “give us our bread” “forgive us” … in this way we realize that the profit or harm of any other brother is also ours and we take to heart the fate of our brothers and sisters.
The Father is also in heaven, that is, he is higher and incomparable to all that exists, this reminds us of divine transcendence.
Hallowed be thy Name
God and his person should be given the place and holiness that belongs to him in the world, the first. Animals sanctify him, Creation sanctifies him, but we men often rebel and do not accept the reality of God nor sanctify his Name and as soon as something goes wrong the men immediately take it out on the eternal Father. He is always and only love, he has never done any evil deeds, nor will he ever do it from the beginning of creation to the end of the world and for all eternity. Men rebel against divine decrees, are incapable of gratitude and do not see the many benefits they have received from God, but are afflicted by the scandal of evil. Instead of blessing God and his wonderful works, they naively curse and mock him and do not sanctify his name, without realizing that one day, by force or love, they will have to surrender and sanctify the divine Name, or be thrown into eternal torment together to demons.
Thy kingdom come
The Kingdom of God is present, but like a germ: with this question we ask God that the Kingdom is fulfilled and finally God is all in all.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
Men resist the will of God on earth and delay its execution, preventing love from winning, equally in heaven there are rebel angels who still oppose God. With this question we ask God to help us to say yes to his will and that it be fulfilled in the visible and invisible world, which is truly present.
Give us this day our daily bread
By asking God for food for sustenance – some also see the image of the Eucharist here – we remind ourselves that our life depends on him and that without his help we would not even be able to obtain material sustenance for our needs, we need God and we must be grateful to him for even the smallest things.
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us
We ask God for forgiveness of our sins, reminding ourselves that this implies that we forgive others, as Jesus taught in the verses that immediately follow the prayer of the Our Father and constitute an explanation of it: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”. (Mt 6:14-15)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
This translation is rather unhappy, the best literal translation would be: “Don’t let us enter into temptation”. Temptation will happen and it is necessary, with this question we ask God for help to overcome it, we realize that evil and temptation can not be overcome by us in any way without divine help and we imprint in our minds the fact that temptation and evil are something that is part of existence, but something negative from which we must be freed.
Someone might object that it is an absurd request, because we will all be tempted. This is wrong, because we also ask “your will be done” … but we continue to do ours and if our question were granted we would all be immediately saints. So we ask “deliver us from evil”, but evil continues to exist in us and around us. The questions we ask serve to get what we ask, even if we don’t always see a result, and also to educate ourselves.
Jesus makes us ask “do not let us enter into temptation”, because this question teaches us to be vigilant. Even before the temptation begins I already know that temptation is a dramatic event and I ask to be radically freed from it; once you cross the threshold of entering temptation, the battle begins and we find ourselves in an unexplored place and full of pitfalls. Only with this prior vigilance is it possible not to be overcome by temptation.
If we sleep and we are unprepared, and we do not even realize that it is coming and we are not convinced of the evil that we can receive in temptation, it will overwhelm us. Educated by Jesus instead, when the temptation arrives we are ready, we sniff the presence of the enemy from his first appearance and immediately raise our guard and we realize that the situation is critical and we ask for divine help without which in these circumstances we just can’t do it. We also know that no one is ever tempted above his own strength and this gives us the certainty that we can win. Finally, we ask to be freed from the Evil One and all forms of evil and that in our life there is no compromise with evil.
And God watches over us and protects us as the most good and loving of fathers even when we are in impossible situations and delivers us from evil and will always deliver us and take us with him up to the heavens and listen to all our demands, even those that are not as perfect as those of the Our Father, because he is a merciful Father. The Lord helps us to grow every day and to mature towards the perfection of prayer, as he wishes.