27 March 2013
Before we started working on the IF campaign here at CAFOD, I don’t think I’d ever given the phrase ‘give us this day our daily bread’ a second thought.
Let’s face it, the Lord’s Prayer, as we say it at every Mass or as a regular part of church services, is a prayer we often repeat thoughtlessly.
I’m not saying that we don’t mean what we’re saying, just that we rarely think about the meaning or context behind the words.
Besides, this specific line would rarely be one we would particularly notice here in the UK. It’s not something we really believe we need God to do for us. Maybe some of us feel that God does not have to provide, because we can.
If we run out of bread many of us simply have to pop out to the shops, and we have a multitude of them to choose from.
Of course this becomes harder when we get older, or are ill or unemployed and struggling with money, but most of the time we do not give bread or food in general a second thought, above deciding what we would like to eat.
‘Bread signifies life. And the lack of it therefore means an end to life.'
It was when I read David McLoughlin’s thoughts on the Lord’s Prayer and Jesus’ reaction to hunger, in which he places the Lord’s Prayer in the context of the time in which it was written, that I finally had a moment of understanding. And then I felt rather foolish for not having noticed it before.
The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer of appeals to God. It lists the things that people most worried about, most needed. As a basic food, bread symbolises all food, nutrition and health.
As such, bread was - and still is for millions of people - an item of huge importance.
There is no guarantee that it will be available, and the lack of constancy in its presence is what worries so many people - placing it among their highest worries, and therefore among their highest appeals to God. It signifies life. And the lack of it therefore means an end to life.
So I realised that we cannot take food for granted. It is a blessed gift from God, and it is one of the world’s worst injustices that we do not share it among all God’s people.
We have to realise that people who have easy access to food, to bread, could be more mindful of others who have none, and more active in speaking out against the injustices that prevent everyone having the same access to food.
Now the Lord’s Prayer is a reminder for me. Every time we hear it, we remember those around the world who do not have their daily bread.
That will be my resolution for the year. To listen to the Lord’s Prayer carefully. To be reminded of my brothers and sisters who are living in hunger.
And then to go out and do my part to change the world so that all may have enough to eat. So that no one need live in fear of not receiving their daily bread.
Helen Moriarty, Theology Programme Communications Officer, CAFOD
Prayer: At this table
At this table we discover the importance of coming together and sharing.
At this table we learn the humility of waiting for all to be seated before eating.
At this table we hear of food banks opening in the neighbourhood.
At this table we know that our brothers and sisters are struggling to feed their families.
At this table we discuss how we have put our faith in systems of greed.
At this table we ask ourselves what we will do to end the injustice of hunger.
At this table we give thanks for the bread we break and distribute so that all may eat.
At this table, Lord, we thank you for bringing us together.
At this table, Lord, strengthen our hope that we can bring about change.
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