By Fr. Max Oliva, S.J.
This issue is the second in a series on The Lord’s Prayer. The “Our Father”, as it is sometimes called, appears in the Gospels of Matthew (6:9-13) and Luke (11:1-4).
THY (YOUR) KINGDOM COME – God’s kingdom is often referred to in the Bible as the “reign of God.” Many of us are used to thinking of this faith reality as referring only to the ‘end time.’ In this sense it is a kingdom that lies ahead of us, the final coming of the reign of God through Christ’s return. As we will see in the third section of this issue, it also refers to the here and now. Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini writes, “God’s kingdom is what comes to pass in this world when God truly reigns…a people transformed according to the will of God.” The kingdom was inaugurated by Jesus in his incarnation, death, resurrection, and sending of the Holy Spirit. It is not exactly a place or a state of mind, not something with geographical boundaries; it is more spiritual in nature. The kingdom is manifested in commitment to Gospel values, especially as seen in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), and by humility, justice and service.
THY WILL BE DONE – In this part of the prayer we ask our Father to unite our will to his Son’s in order to further his plan for the salvation of the world, a plan based on love. “Love one another. Such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for each other” (John 13:34) sums up what God wishes of us. In her insightful book, “I’d Say Yes, God, If I Knew What You Wanted,” author Nancy Reeves points out that in the area of discernment, that is, seeking to know what God wants me to do in my life, another way of expressing this is what God “yearns” or “longs” for me. These words reflect not only what God wants but our freedom to respond. In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola, in the meditation on Christ the King and His Call, has us reflect on these sentiments of Jesus: It is my will to overcome all diseases, all poverty, all ignorance, all oppression – in short, all the enemies of humankind. Then Ignatius adds, How could anyone of good will refuse to be a part of so challenging and noble an adventure?ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN – Or, ‘as it already exists in Heaven’. These words of the Lord’s Prayer speak to our involvement, our participation, in furthering the aims of the Kingdom. We do this by living the values Jesus taught, both in our personal life and in our work: integrity, honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, mercy, non-violence. “Our vocation to eternal life does not suppress, but actually reinforces, our duty to put into action in this world the energies and means received from the Creator to serve justice and peace” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2820). The Holy Spirit helps us to contribute to the building of God’s reign by enlightening our minds to know what is the right thing to do when we are faced with a difficult ethical decision; by transforming whatever fears we may have to carrying out our decision – fear of rejection, for example, or fear of failure – to courage; and by supporting us in our decision.nging Prayer for Our Times
(October 2007 Newsletter)