By Christopher Wells
During the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis began a series of reflections on the second part of the “Our Father”, where, he said, we present our needs to God.
Prayer begins with concrete needs
The first of these petitions, “Give us this day our daily bread”, reminds us that we are not self-sufficient. Prayer, the Pope said, begins with our daily concerns, our most pressing, concrete necessities of life. Pope Francis invited us to consider this prayer from the point of view of those who are in real need: “How many mothers, and how many fathers, even today, go to sleep with the anguish of not having sufficient bread for their children for the next day?” he asked. Seen from this perspective, “the words of Jesus take on new force.”
Pope Francis emphasized that prayer begins not in a form of abstract mysticism, but with our daily needs. Here, he said, “our daily bread” means not just food, but also all the necessities of life, such as water, medicine, a home, a job. Moreover, he continued, in the “Our Father” we are reminded that we must pray not just for our own needs, but for the needs of everyone. “If it is not prayed in this way”, the Pope said, “the ‘Our Father’ ceases to be a Christian prayer”.
"Our Father" includes an attitude of solidarity
With the request for “our daily bread”, rather than my daily bread, the “Our Father” includes in itself an “attitude of empathy, an attitude of solidarity”, Pope Francis said. In this way, Jesus teaches us to present the needs of everyone to the Father.
Pope Francis called to mind the biblical passage read at the beginning of the Audience, which tells the story of the feeding of the five thousand, from the Gospel of St Matthew. The multiplication of the loaves and fishes was a true miracle, the Pope said; but the greater miracle was the sharing. The young boy who shared his bread and fish “had understood the lesson of the ‘Our Father’, Pope Francis explained: “That food is not private property… but providence to be shared, with the grace of God”.
Only the Eucharist can satisfy hunger for the infinite
In this miracle, the Pope said in conclusion, Jesus anticipated the offering of Himself in the Holy Eucharist: “Only the Eucharist”, he said, “is able to satisfy the hunger for the infinite and the desire for God that animates every human person, even in the search for daily bread”.