Is the Our Father a Radical Prayer?

by | Jul 30, 2021 | Formation, Reflections, Vincentian Family

Did you ever think the Our Father was a radical prayer?

I did not… until I asked myself some questions about it.

The questions I asked were not the questions of scripture scholars or theologians. The questions I asked came from the context of the world today. I played a game of ”Make-believe.”

If Jesus were President today …

  • Would he get bipartisan support for a declaration modeled after the prayer Jesus taught his disciples (and many would say “Amen” to in theory)?
  • Would it make it out of committee in either house of Congress?
  • What might Republicans likely insist be made clearer or struggle with?
  • What would Democrats likely insist be made clearer or struggle with?
  • How about QAnon followers? Or the truly radical left? Or maybe even some church-going believers?
  • Would ordinary voters support such a declaration, or claim it restricted their individual rights?
  • Would the Supreme Court have to be called in for advice on the constitutionality of whatever version?

No doubt there would be good people on both sides. Could they agree? Sure, they would… as long as we didn’t take it too seriously. Sure, this declaration would be backed as long as we were not serious about living the implications of “Our Father”!

(Some may be wondering… has Freund a case of “long-haul COVID”!)

Jesus – a radical?

Would Jesus be rejected automatically because people labeled him a radical?

The simple answer for many is yes. Jesus was radical in his ministry and teachings. He questioned the rulers of the Jewish faith, he threw people out of the temple, he pronounced woe to the scribes and Pharisees. He performed healings and miracles on the Sabbath, and even ate without washing his hands.

His whole Sermon on the Mount turned Jewish traditions and laws seemingly upside down. When pressed it took him only a few words to sum up what he stood for.  Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.

The simple fact is that statement is radical. Jesus was a radical. However, I don’t believe it’s that simple.

Jesus was a radical who was fully committed to doing God’s will. He was a servant to his followers, as well as a leader.

He was radical about what was really important to him. He showed us how radical he was when laid down his life for us. As he hung on the cross he said “Father, forgive them. They know not what they are doing.” They are out of their minds.

What was really important for Jesus?

Going beyond the label “radical …” We know that life-long the most important thing for him was his mission to bring “good news” of God’s Kingdom to a confused and suffering humanity. He concretized his message in the image of God’s kingdom where all were welcome (Mt. 25). He was all about God’s kingdom.

He described how those who understood the kingdom would treat one another as sisters and brothers (Mt 25), as what was important to God. The first followers asked how they should pray. He taught them above all to pray “Our Father” and that God’s kingdom come. (Like 11:24, Mt 25:31)

No wonder the Catechism of the Church says that “what we pray for should be centered on the praying ‘thy kingdom come’. Everything else follows from that.”


If you were drafting a declaration

  • Would your declaration echo that of Jesus?
  • Would you pick and choose who you will love as brothers and sisters?
  • Would you have the courage to forgive those who trespass against you?


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