Who Do You Say That I Am? - Part 26
XXVI. Continuing to reflect on the Lord’s Prayer: having considered the term “Father” as used by Jesus, Pope Benedict considers the significance of the word “our.” In part, this is a reminder that we are a community, a beloved family, through Jesus; we are children by adoption (as St. Paul says) through Baptism. Further, only Jesus truly says “my Father” as the eternally-begotten Son; we can only truly say “our Father” because we belong to this family of God only as part of the Body of Christ, a communion with others.
In this way, he notes, the “our” is really rather demanding. It requires us to step outside of the “I-me-my” worldview and into “us-we-our.” It is a powerful antidote to our current cultural individualism and self-focus. To be a Christian means that we belong to something, and Someone, greater than the self alone. Christian faith precedes us and it is received, as a gift; it is not a product of ours or a belief-system we can adapt to our preferences. “Our” Father means that the rest of the Body comes along with faith in Jesus. The First Letter of John captures this in clear terms: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love Godwhom he has not seen” (I John 4:20).
The words that follow – “who art in heaven” – reinforces this idea. We are not saying that God is somehow far away, remote, removed from earthly concerns and dwelling only in heaven. Rather, it is a reference to the universality of God’s presence; the One who is in heaven is the creator of every place and time and from whom every family takes its name (see Ephesians 3:14-21). “The fatherhood that is ‘in heaven’ points us toward the greater ‘we’ that transcends all boundaries, breaks down all walls, and creates peace” (p. 142).