By Reverend Thomas K. Murphy, O.F.M.
Mortimer Adler, educator, author of The Great Books of the Western World, devotee of St. Thomas Aquinas, and convert to the Catholic Faith, died in 2001 at the age of 98. Adler, in his long academic career, confronted the intelligentsia of the secular universities with the charge that they were failing to consider the most important question of human existence – the existence of God. Sadly, much of our culture continues to regard all truth as relative and bows to the ideal of multiculturalism, giving all cultures equal value. Without some kind of human openness to absolute truth, God could not have revealed himself at all to the human race.
Jesus bids us to address these simple words of petition, Give us this day our daily bread, to the Lord God Almighty; for in the last analysis, in the words of the Psalmist, the LORD is the upholder of my life (cf. Ps 54:4b). Even though a whole gamut of people is involved in the production and distribution of food, from the viewpoint of faith, it is the Lord God who gives food to all flesh (cf. Ps 136:25a). While Jesus mentions our daily bread, our most obvious daily physical need, he implies all our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs as well. God is the author of our total humanity: For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother’s womb, I praise you, for I am wondrously made. Wonderful are your works! You know me right well (cf. Ps 139:13, 14).
In the ten Supplication Psalms generally we find (a) an urgent appeal, (b) a mention of the need for some help, and (c) the need for shelter from some danger:
- a) Hear the voice of my supplication, as I cry to you for help . . .
- b) The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts . . . so I am helped . . .
- c) The LORD is . . . a saving refuge for his anointed . . . ( Ps 28:2,7,8).
No less than three of these Supplication Psalms, namely Psalms 36:7, 61:4, and 63:7 contain the touching image which Jesus used in the Temple precincts as he made his final, dramatic appeal to be heeded: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, . . . How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings . . . (cf. Mt 23:37):
- a) . . . I will lift up my hands and call on your name . . .
- b) when I think of you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
- c) For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. (cf, Ps 63:4,6,7).
Since each of us is part of the whole Church and of the whole human race, in this prayer we intercede for all people, especially the poor and oppressed and those people trapped in the many compulsions and addictions of our time.
In his supreme act of love, laying down his life for us in the Eucharist and on Calvary, we are fed with the finest of the wheat (cf. Ps 81:16) and gratefully receive him as the Bread of Life (cf. Jn 6).