Today, as we celebrate the memorial of St John Fisher (Bishop) and St Thomas More, Richard McMahon from the Pastoral Renewal team reads from the Gospel of Matthew (6: 7-15) in which Jesus reminds his followers that ‘the Father, knows what you need before you ask him’ and teaches them to pray the ‘Our Father’.
Richard says, today is a significant celebration, particularly, as we look at England historically in the 1500s and around the time of Henry VIII and the whole movement away of the Church of England that these figures loomed large in our history – Thomas More and John Fisher. Richard does not dwell on specifics about them except to say they were significant and powerful men, both in the Church and the society of their day and, yet they stood up with integrity for what they believed in, even though it ended up costing their lives.
It can seem a bit of a far cry to line this up with the beautiful prayer of the Our Father in our Gospel and, yet I do see a strong comparison. Richard says, if you are like him, that sometimes when we pray the Our Father it can just was over us and we get to the end not really thinking about the words we have shared with our God.
Richard hopes today offers us an opportunity to slow down as we pray this prayer and consider, perhaps, even one line and how it stands out to us.
For Richard, there is a little word, repeated twice in the Our Father, that he finds very significant and that word is: as. We hear it twice firstly, ‘On earth as it is in heaven’ and then ‘forgive us as we forgive others’. On each occasion we are asking that our lives are to be conformed to the life that God has for us not the other way around. We are not saying, somehow, God can you change your way to meet ours but rather that we will stand firm in our faith just like John Fisher and Thomas More did.
In closing, Richards says his prayer for us today is that we do take seriously the Our Father as a prayer of change and transformation that reminds us that every day we need to keep in step with the Holy Spirit in our lives.