January 31, 2015

The Lord's Prayer and a New Solidarity for Humanity

Although rancor, contention and strife threaten our communities and households, it is not delusional to believe that enmity, alienation and futility are not the last words concerning all that is good, noble and true about humanity. This is as true for our cultures and societies as it is for each one of us individually.  Indeed, in the face of our broken sinful habits, the quiet murmuring of the Lord's prayer in the most forgotten alley in even the most heartless metropolis is a sign, like a flickering votive candle in a sanctuary, that misery is not limitless. Those words, "Our Father," even when they rattle out from trembling lips at life's final moment, declare an unvanquished hope that God Himself entrusted to the world.

The Lord's prayer is not a prayer we ever master by our own industry and cleverness. It is a gift from heaven we humbly learn from someone who has gone before us in the faith.  Just as the Father relies on Him for everything, the Word of the Father chose to rely on those who believed him to teach those who would come after them how to pray. He did this when He entrusted the first disciples with these holy words.  When he ascended into heaven, this prayer was part of the Good News He commanded them to go out and preach to the whole world.

In point of fact, what is taught in this prayer (our solidarity with the Father) and how it is taught (through solidarity with one another) safeguards the new solidarity Christ offers humanity through faith in Him. The Lord's prayer is passed on to each of us in the Church as a prayer uttered with Christ, in Christ and through Him. It is a prayer that the Risen Lord offers before the throne of the Father in the sanctuary of heaven itself and that animates His work in the world that continues even now.  It is the prayer that resounds from the very heart to the most extreme periphery of the Lord's Mystical Body, in the silence of the most secluded hermitage or forgotten hospice to the piercing cries of those tortured and publicly humiliated for His sake.

No one who utters this prayer with faith ever prays alone.  Whenever a Christian joins himself to Christ by faith and dares to utter these holy words, the Risen Lord animates this prayer with a love that is stronger than death. This love no power on the earth, or under it, can quench. It is a love that does not come from this world, but from the Father who is in heaven.  The divine love born on the words of this humble prayer binds the believer with every other believer, overcoming every form of alienation and enmity, establishing communion, giving birth to mission.