Piazza San Pieto
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Catechesis on the "Our Father": 11. Give us our daily bread
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today we are going to analyze the second part of the "Our Father", the one in which we present our needs to God. This second part begins with a word that smells of everyday life: bread.
Jesus' prayer starts from a compelling question, which is very similar to the begging of a beggar: "Give us our daily bread!" This prayer comes from an evidence that we often forget, which is to say that we are not self-sufficient creatures, and that we need to feed ourselves every day.
The Scriptures show us that for so many people the encounter with Jesus was realized starting from a question. Jesus does not ask for refined invocations, on the contrary, all human existence, with its most concrete and daily problems, can become prayer. In the Gospels we find a multitude of beggars who beg for liberation and salvation. Who asks for bread, who heals her; some purification, others sight; or that a loved one can live again ... Jesus never passes indifferent next to these requests and these pains.
Therefore, Jesus teaches us to ask the Father for daily bread. And it teaches us to do it together with so many men and women for whom this prayer is a cry - often kept inside - that accompanies everyday anxiety. How many mothers and fathers, even today, go to sleep with the torment of not having enough bread tomorrow for their children! We imagine this prayer recited not in the security of a comfortable apartment, but in the precariousness of a room in which we adapt, where there is not enough to live. The words of Jesus take on new strength. Christian prayer begins at this level. It is not an exercise for ascetics; it starts from reality, from the heart and flesh of people who live in need, or who share the condition of those who do not have the necessary to live. Not even the highest Christian mystics can disregard the simplicity of this question. "Father, let there be the necessary bread for us and for everyone". And "bread" is also for water, medicine, home, work ... Ask for what is necessary to live.
The bread that the Christian asks for in prayer is not "mine" but "our" bread. This is what Jesus wants. He teaches us to ask for it not only for ourselves, but for the whole fraternity of the world. If we do not pray in this way, the "Our Father" ceases to be a Christian prayer. If God is our Father, how can we present ourselves to Him without taking our hands? All of us. And if the bread that He gives us we steal from us, how can we tell ourselves his children? This prayer contains an attitude of empathy, an attitude of solidarity. In my hunger I feel the hunger of the multitudes, and then I will pray to God until their request is granted. Thus Jesus educates his community, his Church, to bring the needs of all to God: "We are all your children, Father, have mercy on us!" And now it's good for us to stop a bit and think about hungry children. We think of the children who are in countries at war: the hungry children of Yemen, the hungry children in Syria, the hungry children in many countries where there is no bread, in South Sudan. We weigh these children and thinking of them together we say, aloud, the prayer: "Father, give us this day the daily bread". All together.
The bread that we ask of the Lord in prayer is the same one that one day will accuse us. We will be reproached for the little habit of breaking it with those close to us, the little habit of sharing it. It was a bread given for humanity, and instead it was eaten only by someone: love cannot bear this. Our love cannot stand it; nor can the love of God bear this egoism of not sharing bread.
Once upon a time there was a great crowd before Jesus; they were people who were hungry. Jesus asked if anyone had anything, and only one child was found willing to share his supply: five loaves and two fish. Jesus multiplied that generous gesture (see Jn 6: 9). That child had understood the lesson of the "Our Father": that food is not private property - let's put this in mind: food is not private property - but providence to share, with the grace of God.
The true miracle performed by Jesus that day is not so much the multiplication - which is true - but sharing: you give what you have and I will perform the miracle. He himself, multiplying that offered bread, anticipated the offering of Himself in the Eucharistic Bread. In fact, only the Eucharist is able to satiate the hunger for the infinite and the desire of God that animates every man, even in the search for daily bread.
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