Jesus tells the disciples not to imitate the Gentiles who heap up empty phrases each time they pray to their gods and goddesses. The long prayers are meant to appease or bribe their gods whom they see as vengeful, capricious, and terrifying. Their babble is meant to extract favors from difficult and demanding deities.
As believers in one God, the Jews do not worship these cruel deities. They believe in and adore the Lord whom they know through their ancestors. The Jews, however, relate to God in awe and fear and consider him to be distant and remote.
Jesus surprises his disciples by presenting God as Father. The Hebrew word Jesus uses, Abba, denotes a doting relationship between father and child. One need not squeeze the father’s arm to obtain favors from him. In fact, Jesus says, our Father already knows what we need even before we ask him.
Our Abba unites all people as God’s children, and we are taught to live a holy life like that of our heavenly Father, to desire his Kingdom on earth and in heaven, and learn to be a forgiving people.
Gospel • MATTHEW 6:7-15Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This is how you are to pray: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’
“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2019,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: email@example.com; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.