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“Our” Father

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

The Gospel reading for Thursday of Week 11 contains Jesus’ teaching on prayer, which we have come to call the “Our Father.”

It is valuable to focus on the first word, “our.” At the meetings of some groups, the members pray this prayer and before they start, someone will ask “Whose Father?” And the prayer begins.

We pray to our Father, and not merely my Father. It is a reminder that we are all children of God and therefore related to each other as brothers and sisters. Everyone, not only Christians, but all people are thus related.

The human race has not learned that lesson well. Down through the centuries, it seems the history of humanity is a history of warfare, violence, racism and oppression. But we must not forget the many millions who did indeed try to live respecting their brothers and sisters.

And so, given the news of each day, we still have a lot to learn, based on the simple beginning of the Lord’s Prayer. We could also include concern for the earth and its creatures. Our God has created and presides over all. Francis of Assisi liked to call many creatures his brothers and sisters, all in view of our Creator God.

As we pray the prayer so often, we might see the many applications of that word, “our.” Lord, teach us to pray.


By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

As a priest, I get to listen to lots of people of all ages. Often with people who have been on the earth for some time, a similar theme appears. People who have been trying to pray, attend church, receive sacraments for many years often feel as though they should be “better” by now. They “should” have more patience, more charity, more kindness, be better at prayer.

It is probably natural that we wonder “How am I doing?” And many of us tend too easily to lean toward the negative and think less of ourselves than might be accurate.

The Gospel parables of the recent Sunday have something to say about all that. Jesus uses images of farm crops and the famous mustard seed. Many things come from very small beginnings, and often grow and develop in quiet and mysterious ways.

I would suggest the good people who tell me about their shortcomings have no idea how much good they have done in their long lives, how many good seeds they have planted by their care, their hard work, their responsible tending to children, relatives and friends.

Measuring such things is not necessary. We can leave that up to God, and keep on, in the present and the future, planting our seeds of kindness, justice, and compassion.

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