Though many states are now reopening, most Americans are coming out of months and months of feeling anxious and powerless. And things aren’t going to go back to normal right away. Though the quarantine is ending, people are still ill, grieving the loss of loved ones, without a job, or nervous about going back to their jobs. So you may still be feeling anxiety about what is going on around you, or looking forward and worried about what the future holds.
If you are still feeling that anxiety and powerlessness, then it may bring you peace to focus on two simple words from the Our Father. In a recent Catechetical Corner on Go Ask Your Father™ Monsignor Stuart Swetland pointed out that the simple words “Give us” pack a lot of meaning that can be particularly empowering in a time when many are still feeling powerless.
The imperative way that we pray “give us this day our daily bread” in the Our Father may seem rude, but it is rather Jesus teaching us to speak to the Father in a way that acknowledges his goodness. We have a Father in heaven who loves us and everything good that we have comes from him.
The Catechism tells us in paragraph 2828, “Jesus teaches us this petition, because it glorifies our Father by acknowledging how good he is, beyond all goodness.” Even during bad times it can bring peace to know that we have a good Father who loves us.
In his Catechetical Corner, Msgr. Swetland also pointed to paragraph 2829 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which teaches:
“Give us” also expresses the covenant. We are his and he is ours, for our sake. But this “us” also recognizes him as the Father of all men and we pray to him for them all, in solidarity with their needs and sufferings.
“I don’t know how I missed that,” Msgr. Swetland admitted. “I’ve looked at this section numerous times, but it just hadn’t gotten into my thick skull that that’s one of the ways to interpret ‘Give us.'”
“It reminds us of our covenant relationship with God,” he continued. “And then, of course, if we’re asking him to give us our daily bread (which means the daily bread of the Eucharist and the daily bread of the our daily needs) we’re also asking him as Father of all to provide for everyone.”
If you are feeling anxious, recognizing the meaning of the words “give us” in the Our Father can help you remember that we have a loving Father who desires good for us, not evil. And if you see the suffering around you and are feeling powerless, recognize that the “us” in “give us” means everyone, including those most in need. Ask the Lord to give his gifts to all those most in need, and to show you how to cooperate with his will in giving of your own spiritual and physical gifts.
Listen to the full Catechetical Corner below: