Scripture: lectionary 239 March 5. Daniel 25:34-43. Psalm 25:4-5.6-7.8-9. Matthew 18:21-35
The holy priest named Origen, who lived in the third century, devoted several sermons to the Our Father. He said that in it is contained all that is necessary for prayer. Today’s readings treat us to the reality of that statement as we read from Daniel, the Psalm 25, and the Gospel of Matthew. We, through taking some time to meditate on these readings, will easily find connections to the Lord’s Prayer.
Daniel’s prayer is very complete and focuses both on his individual prayer as well as his prayer for the people of Israel. Behind it is the need for forgiveness for failings against the loving-kindness of God expressed in the long lasting covenant with Israel, the people of God. We learn the necessity of having a heart filled with compunction and contrition. We need the humility of Daniel and the holy poor ones of God called the ‘Anawim, those who can only depend upon God. Mary’sMagnificat is a perfect example of this prayer; we are led to pray with great confidence and humility with her wholesome spirit.
Psalm 25 is a psalm of great hope. This is an important part of prayer for hope is based on our remembering the great acts of God’s mercy and love done on the behalf of all of God’s people. The psalm recalls God’s mercies. In the Lord’s prayer we are directed to the praise and hallowing of God’s name and to think about the result of our prayer—eventual union with God in the kingdom of God. Jeremiah has said we “have hope for the future.” This is true since we know God is ever-faithful to the promises made in the past that we recall in our prayer, thus our prayer should be permeated with hope. Even in one of our devotional prayers dedicated to Mary we ask her to “Remember, o most gracious virgin Mary…”
The answer of Jesus to Peter’s question and the parable bring out one of the most demanding petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, that of forgiving and being forgiven. We are to forgive one another an infinite number of times (seventy times seventy is symbolic of this forgiveness). We learn not to be like the servant who was forgiven his greater debts by his master, but refused to forgive his own debtors. We, therefore, pray today, “Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. “ Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.