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The ‘Our Father’ of My Childhood
The Contexts of the Story
The Historical Context of the Our Father
My Historical Context
Blending Contexts in an On-going History
Companions on the Way
The Word ‘Debt/Indebted’ in the Our Father
Main Focus on Luke 11:4
Usual Interpretation of ‘Sin’ and ‘Debt’
Larger Than Sin
Indebtedness in Jesus’ Historical Setting
Where has the Jubilee Year Gone?
Rabbi Hillel’s Prosbul
The Significance of the Word ‘Debt’
The Jubilee Year in the Lk 4:16-30
More Than Sin-Orientation: The Kingdom of God
Breaking Fixed or Petrified Perspectives
Re-reading Lk 11:4 Through Jesus’ Eyes
Re-reading Lk 11:4 Through the Eyes of an Awakened, Poor Jew
Re-reading Lk 11:4 in the Larger Context of Luke’s Gospel
Lk 18: 18-27: a Commentary on Luke’s ‘Our Father’.
Social Justice in the Larger Context of Luke-Acts
Re-reading Lk 11:4 in the Context of Acts 2 and 4
Re-reading Luke 11:4 in My Context
The Need for an Alternative Spirituality
Before We Part Ways: Time to Recharge and Refresh
As We Part
Bibliography
Footnotes
All Pages

The Word ‘Debt/Indebted’ in the Our Father. The ‘Our Father’ or the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ forms part of my significant childhood memories. Unfortunately, one of its essential aspects has been set aside or forgotten in the course of history. I wish to recover and re-contextualize this neglected part of the prayer in my integral growth towards total salvation. I hope others will eventually find this meaningful in their journey, too.

The forgotten part of the ‘Our Father’ of my childhood is the word ‘debt’ or ‘indebted’ in the prayer’s section which is usually referred to as the ‘we’ or ‘us’ petitions. As a child, I used to pray or sing: ‘And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.’ However, with the modification of the prayer made by the Diocese of Laoag in 1998, which, I believe, was in conformity to the liturgical reforms implemented in the whole Northern Luzon Church as well as the entire Philippine Church, I now sing or pray: ‘And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.’

I am not familiar with the reasons why the ‘Our Father’ was modified. Be that as it may, I believe that those who revised this precious prayer had good intentions and reasons for doing so. I accepted then the modification without questions.

But now that I have grown more maturely, I have realized that when it comes to biblical or total salvation, it is simply myopic to merely talk about cleansing of sin for the soul’s redemption in heaven.[5] This is so because biblical salvation is essentially about human beings (not disembodied souls)[6], and biblical spirituality is substantially about being critical and bold against systemic structures of evil in concrete human affairs. Certainly, for victims of human rights violations, hunger, discrimination, unjust labor practices and the like, promoting conversion through confession is not enough. More has to be done. We have to tear down systemic structures of evil, and build humane and just alternatives so that victims of dehumanization may be alleviated from their miseries. It is not sufficient then to merely promote and celebrate the sacraments. Projects about authentic human development have to be seriously and significantly carried out as well.

The aforementioned realization about biblical salvation has to be given due emphasis in catechesis, preaching, classroom discussions and the like. And to make this realization more explicit in Christian consciousness, I suggest that the ‘Our Father’ be prayed again either in Matthew’s version, “And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” or Luke’s, “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.” Obviously, I intend to appeal for the recovery of the word ‘debt’ or ‘indebted’ in the prayer. Why this is so is not yet the main focus at this point. We will devote ample space for it along our journey. It suffices to say for now that my attempt at recovery is not only about being faithful to the wording of the biblical data and to the spirit of Jesus’ message when he preached the Kingdom of God in first century Palestine. It also pertains to our present vocation as prophets confronting ‘Caesars, Pilates, Herods and Caiphases’ in our contemporary historical setting. For as we will see in detail, the word ‘debt’ or ‘indebted’ in the Lord’s prayer -- when viewed in the context of Jesus’ historical dynamics -- can speak strongly against the poverty, oppressions and injustices inflicted on the common people by the elite who monopolized power-structures and wealth for their selfish interests. Also, the aura of these social illnesses is obviously still with us today. Hence, we need to rekindle and keep ablaze the power of the word ‘debt’ or ‘indebted’ to evoke in us the prophetic spirit of Jesus as we face our own inhumane situations today, most especially that the ‘Our Father’ is one of the most well-known prayers. Being so, the ‘Our Father’ may be a good way by which Christian consciousness and spirituality may be formed and empowered to shape society according to the values of God’s Kingdom.



 
 


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