241. Pater Noster in over 160 Languages


9 “Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
    Your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 And forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,
    but rescue us from the evil one. [Matthew 6:9-13, NRSV]

Related image 

(1) Church of Pater Noster (Seetheholyland.net); (2) The Lord’s Prayer by James Tissot , 1896; (3) Pater Noster ceramic plaques.

At the Church of Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives, we recall the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray and the Lord taught them the “Our Father” (Luke 11:1-4; Matthew 6:7-15).

On walls around the church and its vaulted cloister, translations of the Lord’s Prayer in more than 160 languages are inscribed on colourful ceramic plaques. In December 2019, one more language was added, that of the Bidayuh Bau. The unveiling of the Bidayuh plaque witnessed by Archbishop Simon Poh of the Archdiocese of Kuching, Malaysia, who led a contingent of the faithful from Sarawak to witness the event as part of their Holy Land Pilgrimage itinerary.

We provide below as a guest-post the homily of Fr. Albert Jacobse on the “Our Father” prayer, preached during our trip a year earlier in December 2018.


Our Father

The prayer is not an “I” prayer, but a “we” prayer.  We come before God not as individuals but before the God of us all.  The opening address settles once and for all not only our relationship with God, but also with our fellow human beings.  If God is Our Father, then our fellow human beings are our brothers and sisters.  All discrimination, racism exploitation stands condemned.

If we direct our prayer to God, how should we address him?  Who is he?  To whom do we want to speak?  The Creator of the universe, the omnipotent, ever present, almighty, never changing Lord of heaven and earth?  No, for us the God to whom Jesus directs us to pray is Abba.

Hallowed be Thy Name

To know God’s name is to know God as he makes himself known to us and offers us salvation.

In this petition we pray: “father, let the world come to know your name through your final revelation.  We know who you are, what you are like, because your Son has revealed your name to us, your being Abba

Thy Kingdom come

May God, who reigns in heaven, finally establish his rule here on earth.  Lord, let nothing except the presence of your kingdom rule and determine all my actions and my life.

Give us today our daily bread

In the light of the Kingdom my bread is never my bread alone (us and our) St Basil: The bread that is spoiling in your house belongs to the hungry.  The shoes that are mildewing under your bed belong to those who have none.  The clothes stored away in your trunk belong to those who are naked.  The money that depreciates in your treasury belongs to the poor.

The petition for the bread includes material needs as well as spiritual needs without making the one more important than the other.  Conversion!!

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us:

  • so that we in the power of your forgiveness may find the strength to forgive others.

“As we forgive” should not be taken as a comparison as if God would forgive us in the measure that we forgive.

If we do not forgive one another, we are actually showing that we have not really

accepted the great forgiveness of God’s love that is offered to us at the end of times.

Lead us not into temptation

God does not tempt anyone.  We know that no one can obtain the Kingdom of God who has not passed through testing. All we ask is to stand firm in the midst of temptation. The petition is not a request that he or she who prays may be spared temptation, but God will help him or her to overcome it. The great temptation is to lose faith that the Kingdom is already in the world as an illusion, to give in to despair.

Copyright © Dr. Jeffrey & Angie Goh, February 2020. All rights reserved.

You are most welcome to respond to this post. Email your comments to jeffangiegoh@gmail.com. You can also be dialogue partners in this Ephphatha Coffee-Corner Ministry by sending us questions for discussion.