October 8th, 2008
Robert P. Heaney
John A. Creighton University Professor
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“Pray” and “prayer” in the New Testament
almost always means petition – asking God for something. Today’s
gospel says that Jesus was in a certain place “praying”.
His disciples would have understood that He was asking God –
His Father – for guidance. “Show me your will. What
is it you want me to do?” Naturally enough, His disciples
asked Him to tell them what they should ask God for as
well (as John the Baptist had done for his followers). Jesus tells
them to ask God to establish his reign on earth. It was the “how
to do that” for which He, himself, had been seeking guidance.
“Hallowed be your name” and “Your kingdom come”
are simply polite ways of asking God to run things His way. They
are not just pious wishes that people would honor God’s name
or bring about God’s rule. They are calls for action –
for God to act, not us.
The question we must answer when confronted with this Gospel passage
– when we pray the Lord’s Prayer – is “Do
we mean it?” “Do we really want God to run things His
way?” The Gospels are full of Jesus telling us what that would
be like. “The Kingdom of God is like . . .” Like the
prodigal father who welcomed home his lost son. Like the vineyard
owner who paid the laborers who worked only one hour the same wage
as those who worked all day. Like the person who gave a feast and
invited “…the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind…”
Like little children.
These things offend our sensibilities. This is not how the world
works. If we were to do this, there would be terrible disruption.
Society and business, as we know them, would come apart.
That’s why the final petition that Jesus gives is “.
. . subject us not to the trial” (in some translations “temptation”).
Don’t let us succumb to the temptation of saying (and acting
as if) it won’t work. Perhaps the reason the Kingdom hasn’t
come yet is that we haven’t wanted it to.
to the writer of this reflection.
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