Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt 6:11)

Yung Suk Kim

"Give us this day our daily bread"
(Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον)

This is a part of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. 

Jesus taught about what God has done or what God is like in verses 9-10: "Our father, which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name; thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου, ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου, γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς.

In these verses 9-10 there are three things that are important to prayer: "our father and his name," "his kingdom," and "his will." First, God must be the holy Other ("in heaven") and take care of all (because it is "our" God, which is communal). God's holy name has to do with his character of love and caring for the world and people. Second, God's kingdom, better to translate the Greek noun basileia as "rule" than as "kingdom" because the point of the lesson by Jesus, as he says and does through the Gospels, is that God rules humans and the world. It must be God's activity or rule that is characterized by mercy, justice, and peace. Most important, God's rule comes in the here and now. It is not merely about future event or about a place. Third, in the end, with this coming of God's rule, God's will be done "on earth," as it is in heaven.

After a series of three godly things, Jesus asks to pray like this: "Give us this day our daily bread." Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον.

What is sought is "our daily bread." What is sought is a collective community that must survive with daily food distributed to all. "Our" means community and "daily" means each and every day. One cannot save for tomorrow. In Matt 6:25-34, Jesus talks about the importance of communal striving for God's kingdom and his righteousness.

More important, what is asked is not a million-dollar-table dish but the ordinay food. Bread means the most simple yet most natural food for the ordinary. What is asked for is not something luxurious or expensive. We should know how to be content with what we have.

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