By Robin Gomes
In his General Audience this week, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Lord’s prayer, ”Our Father”, focusing on the first of its 7 invocations – “hallowed be thy name”.
Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square under a warm, sunny sky, he urged them to trust in the Father who knows everything about us and to ask Him what we need without anxiety and agitation.
He said that the “Our Father” has the pattern of every prayer, consisting of contemplating God and sincere supplications for our needs. The first 3 of the 7 supplications of “Our Father” are centred on “thy”, God the Father - holy be your name, your kingdom come,
The remaining four deal with “we” and our human needs – our daily bread, forgiveness of sins, help in temptation and freedom from evil.
The Father knows everything
The contemplation of God, the Pope said, is the mould of every Christian and human prayer. On the one hand, we contemplate God, His mystery, beauty and goodness, and, on the other, we sincerely and courageously ask for “what we need to live, and live well”. Thus, simply and essentially, the “Our Father” educates those who pray to Him not to multiply vain words, because Jesus says, "your Father knows what you need before you even ask him for it" (Mt 6:8).
The Pope explained that in our prayers we do not reveal ourselves to the Father because He knows us much better than we know ourselves. God is a mystery to us, but we are not an enigma in his eyes. He is like mothers who at a glance understand everything about their children: whether they are happy or sad, whether they are sincere or are hiding something...
Trust in the Father
The first step of Christian prayer, the Pope pointed out, is entrusting ourselves to God, to His providence. In the Sermon on the Mount, following the “Our Father”, Jesus exhorts us not to worry and be anxious about things. It seems like a contradiction that Jesus first teaches us to ask for our daily bread and then tells us not to worry about our food, drink and clothes. The Holy Father explained that the contradiction is only apparent. The Christian's prayer expresses trust in the Father and it is precisely this trust that makes us ask for what we need without anxiety and agitation.
God’s holiness reflected in us
In the invocation, "Hallowed be Thy name", the Pope noted, one feels all the admiration of Jesus for the beauty and greatness of the Father and the desire that all recognize and love Him for what He truly is. At the same time, there is the plea that His name
The Pope said that God's holiness must be reflected in our actions, in our lives. As a Christian if I do bad things, it hurts and scandalizes, it is not reflecting God’s holiness.
God’s holiness destroys evil
God’s holiness, the Pope continued, is an expanding force and we pray that it quickly breaks down the barriers of our world. And the first to suffer in this is evil that afflicts the world. When Jesus casts out evil spirits they protest. The holiness of Jesus is outstretched and expands into concentric circles, like when you throw a stone in a pond. The days of evil are numbered and it can no longer harm us, the Pope assured, because Jesus the strongman who takes possession of his house has arrived. Jesus also gives us the strength to take possession of our inner home.
The Pope said prayer drives out all fear because the Father loves us, the Son raises his arms alongside ours and the Spirit works in secret for the redemption of the world. Hence we do not waver in uncertainty because Jesus who loves us gave His life for us and the Spirit is within us.