22 June 2017: The Theology of Inter-subjectivity


Inter-subjectivity is a branch of philosophy which came up in a big way after the Second World War. From the philosophy of Cogito Ergo Sum (I am, therefore I exist) postwar ethics moved on to the relatedness of human beings through Gabriel Marcel and others who developed the concept of ‘We’ rather than ‘I..’ In today’s Gospel too we find Jesus emphasizing this aspect of togetherness. If we look at the Lord’s Prayer we find that all the prayer requests are for the community and not for the individual. This is expressed through phrases life ‘our’ Father, forgive ‘us,’ save ‘us,’ give ‘us,’ do not put ‘us,’ and the like. Thus Jesus develops a theology of inter-subjectivity through this prayer. The importance of inter-subjectivity is underlined with the repetition of the ‘give-and-take relationship’ with regard to forgiveness. “If you forgive others their failings, then the heavenly father would forgive your failings too.” This echoes Sir 28:1-5 where we read: “Pardon your neighbour and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven you.” Thus the best way to have our prayer answered is to reach out to our neighbour and mend the differences. If not, we would be only babbling in front of the Lord. “Be no hurry to speak, do not hastily declare yourself before the Lord.” (Qo 5: 1) Repetition of several prayers and long hours would be useless if one is not able to relate to others well. “When you come for sacrifice, if you think that the other has something against you, then put your sacrifice down and go and mend the relationship and then come and offer the sacrifice.” Each time when we pray the ‘Our Father’ we are emphasizing this communitarian aspect of our religion.

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