Our Father – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Luke 11:1-4, Wednesday of 27th Week in Ordinary Time

I hadn’t picked up the rosary for many, many years since I was ordained. Mom pretty much forced us to pray it with her every October and May; even as a child, I had already found it too repetitive for me to really mean what I say at every Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

Mom was between life and death at the ICU 13 months ago. That was the last time I was with her. She had already suffered many small strokes for three years, so her memory was on and off – actually, more off than on. When I visited with her, I figured it must have been years since she last prayed the rosary vocally, and with any of her family for that matter. So since she was miraculously a bit more lucid than usual, I asked if she’d pray the rosary with me. She said yes. So we did. And not for one moment did her memory fail her from the “I Believe” right down to the “O God, whose only Begotten Son.” “And why should it fail her?” I told myself, when she had prayed the rosary many, many times a day, through the passing seasons of her life—in her joy, in days of need, in time of sin and need for forgiveness, or in temptations.

Mom died three weeks after that. And I have since found myself praying the rosary again. It was mom’s life-prayer. She taught it to me. It got her through her sunrise and sunsets, it got us through as a family wherever the wind was blowing in her life, north, south, east, & west. My praying the very prayer so important to mom makes me feel she’s still very close, and most of all, that she’s still praying it with me.

If mom had her Hail Marys accompany her through the winds & seasons of her life, maybe Jesus had the Our Father accompany him through his. “Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come.” Jesus must’ve had days when praise & thanksgiving were the breeze that refreshed him. “Give us each day our daily bread,” or closer to the original Greek: “Keep giving us our bread”. Days when he begged the Father to rain down blessings especially for people in desperate need. “Forgive us our sins as we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us”. Times when he felt the tempest rage within, and wished it were much easier to forgive. And finally, “Subject us not to the final test,” Jesus must have also felt that calm before a storm, the deceptive allure of taking the quick and easy way away from others, away from God.

So in whatever season our Lord’s life was, the sun rose and set on him calling to the Father. All the lines taken together must have been a way of saying, “My Father, you are my north, my south, my east, and my west. You are my everywhere and my everything. I am nothing and nowhere without you.”

It’s not just a formula that Jesus teaches us in the Our Father, I don’t think. He teaches us to lovingly place ourselves in a disposition of permanent, desperate, and utter dependence on God—who is our Everywhere and our Everything, a loving Father.

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