Today, we hear Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer with its seven petitions. Matthew’s version is the one that the Church has traditionally used. Of course, we pray it at every Mass. And we pray it before every decade of the Rosary (and at the very beginning after the Apostle’s Creed).
One of the seven petitions says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” There are actually a few different dimensions to this petition.
First is that God will provide what we need if we trust in him. Both materially and spiritually.
Do we worry about what to wear or what to eat? Jesus tells us just a few verses later, “But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”
Do we worry about our spiritual needs? God gives us the Holy Spirit and the graces and fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Most importantly, when we talk about daily bread, we cannot overlook the Eucharist. The word that we translate as daily is used nowhere else in the New Testament. In its literal sense, it means “super-essential.” When we talk about “this day,” it can be a reference to the Lord’s Day. In the Eucharist, we receive our Lord himself.
Just as for the Israelites in the desert, daily bread also means what we need for that day alone. They were instructed not to hoard beyond their daily need. More than a call to avoid hoarding, this is a call to us to share our surplus. We keep only what we need and share the rest with those who otherwise lack what they need. We do so because of a true sense of charity. We love our neighbor, and so we share with our neighbor that is in need.
In ancient times, the poor depended on family and community to help them. In today’s world, we depend on government to care for the poor. Without making a judgment on the role of government, we can see that personal charity is not what it should be. Few truly share their surplus with the poor. As Christians, we cannot neglect that call to help.
What do we think of when we hear this petition in the “Our Father” prayer? Do we struggle with the trust that the petition implies? Do we struggle with the charity that is also implied?