This past Tuesday at Mass we heard the famous passage in the Gospel of Matthew when the Lord taught his disciples the prayer we now call “The Our Father.” For many of us it is one of the first prayers that we learned as children and remains the one prayer that all Christians offer. It combines our praise and thanks to God the Father, while offering a series of petitions that remind us of our own poverty and need for God to meet our needs.
As I reflected upon the prayer, and in light of our commitment to stand by those who are hungry in our midst, I was struck by the fact that two petitions that form the heart of the prayer follow each other. They are: “Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
The second petition reminds us that we will be open to receive the gift of God’s forgiveness to the extent that we learn to forgive others who trespass against us. I wonder if we should not hold ourselves to the same obligation when we speak of the need for our daily bread? More specifically, as disciples of the Lord, should we not be committed to give our neighbors their daily bread, if we wish to receive daily bread from the hands of our loving God? In other words, how can we wish to receive daily bread if we are not open to help others to receive their daily bread?
In a world in which poverty, hunger and homelessness is growing, if we wish to honor our loving God and to have our own needs met, I believe that we must redouble our efforts to become the hands and feet of God in the world to bring bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, shelter for the homeless and to feed our deepest hunger for daily bread by doing what the Father has asked from us.