The Prayer that Jesus, our divine Savior, taught us, begins with the first invocation as, “Our Father who art in heaven”. Following this invocation, there are seven petitions. The first three petitions refer to the sanctification of his name, the coming of his kingdom and the fulfillment of his will. The other four petitions are for nourishing our lives, for the forgiveness of our sins, for overcoming the temptations and for deliverance from every evil. Commenting on The Lord’s prayer, St. Thomas Aquinas says that the prayer “Our Father” is the model and the most perfect of all the prayers. It is because, he thinks that we ask in this prayer not only for all our needs but also it has been formed in the order, we have to pray.
The first Petition: Hallowed be thy name
This petition should not be understood as if we pray for the increase of God’s holiness. No creature could possibly think of increasing God’s holiness. Hence, we ask in this first petition that God’s holiness may shine forth and that his name be recognized as holy and that his name be treated in a holy manner. The Catechism of the Catholic Church enlightens us in these words: “The term “to hallow” is to be understood here not primarily in its causative sense (only God hallows, makes holy), but above all in an evaluative sense: to recognize as holy, to treat in a holy way and so, in adoration … is understood as praise and thanksgiving… Beginning with this first petitions to our Father, we are immersed in the innermost mystery of his godhead and the drama of the salvation of our humanity. Asking the Father that his name be made holy draws us into his plan of loving kindness for the fullness of time…” (CCC #2807).
The second Petition: Thy Kingdom come
This petition expresses the hope that the time will come when God will reign over the hearts of the humankind and that he will be recognized as their king. God’s kingdom has been inaugurated with the coming of Jesus and visibly started growing with the coming of the Holy Spirit. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul declares: “The kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Besides this reference to the existing Kingdom of God reigning over the hearts of the believers, “Coming of His Kingdom” refers also to the final coming of the reign of God through the second coming of Jesus Christ in Glory (Cf. CCC #2818). Thus, we pray in the second petition that God may reign in us through the Holy Spirit partially now and in its fulness at the end of our life on earth in heaven.
May the Holy Spirit enlighten us,
Fr. Arul Joseph V.