In Matthew 5-7, Christ ascends a mountain in Galilee to deliver the Sermon on the Mount, a summary of the New Covenant, a perfection of the Old Covenant; Christ’s authoritatively commands that His disciples are to not only keep the outer requirements of the 10 Commandments but must strive for a true inner conversion of the heart. After “raising the bar” on a number of moral issues (anger, lust, divorce/adultery, oaths), Christ directs the disciples’ attention on prayer. Christ begins by condemning hypocritical prayer done in public so as to receive acclaim and condemns the pagan repetitive babbling of empty phrases which were thought to be able to get the attention of one of the many gods.

Christ turns to the model for Christian prayer, the Our Father. Calling God “Father”, Christ reveals that men are to approach God as a loving “Father” and confirms the essential human need for paternity (the leadership of men as fathers) for protection, guidance and most of all, love. The Father’s name is to be held in the greatest esteem possible for a human, to be “hallowed”; Christ reinforces the importance of the Holy Name as in 2nd Commandment. Christ reasserts the reality of God’s Kingdom and that men are to pray for God’s Kingdom to be embraced by all.

Christ emphasizes man’s dependence on the Father in daily life. He teaches that men are totally dependent on God for daily bread, including bodily nourishment (i.e. every day food) and spiritual nourishment (i.e. the supernatural bread of the Eucharist). A stunning call to perfection, Christ reveals that God will forgive men for their trespasses in the same way that men forgive the trespasses of other men. Christ ends with the plea to God to not allow men to fall into temptation, a veiled reference to Satan’s action in the world: Matthew’s version ends with “and deliver us from [the] evil [One]”

1) The word Greek word, epiousios, translated as “daily” (“daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer) has a mysterious and profound meaning. Epiousios was invented (it is not found elsewhere in ancient Greek) for a word that Christ used that reveals the Eucharist; various translations mysteriously point to the Eucharist include “future bread”, “manna”, “necessary” and “super-essential” (CCC 2837). When praying the Lord’s Prayer each day, recall the Eucharist when repeating “daily bread.”

2) Christ emphasizes prayer to the Father through His preaching and His own prayer life. During Lent, grow in understanding of the Our Father (CCC 2759-2865) and to pray it daily (before your feet hit the floor in the morning, during the day and as the last words from your lips before sleeping).

3) Imitating the Heavenly Father’s and St. Joseph’s love for the Son, Christ teaches His spiritual sons (the disciples) how to pray. During Lent, renew your commitment to be a Father (CCC 2214; 2221-2231) and frequently pray the Our Father with your children and others.