Jules Does

Jules Does Lent: Tuesday Week 1

Posted on: February 16, 2016

So, we’ve come to the end of the first week of Lent. How has it been for you? I failed in my Lenten “resolution” almost immediately and by accident by ordering a hot chocolate on Saturday because I straight up forgot I was giving up chocolate.

I have three university degrees.

Anyway, on to today’s readings. By the way, for those of you without a missal or who don’t understand how missals work or what liturgical year we’re in (cough cough me cough), I get the daily readings from Universalis.com, which also has resources to help you pray the Hours.

The passages today – Isaiah 55:10-11 and Matthew 6:7-15 – both strike me as pretty well-known passages. They’re comfortable, like old shoes, and you’ve probably heard them preached on before, or perhaps touched on lightly as barely needing explanation. In the first reading, God affirms that His word cannot but succeed in this world. It goes from Him, achieves its end, and returns to Him in triumph. The New Testament reading is the Lord’s Prayer, the one bit of the Bible that pretty much everyone knows.

So the two passages are familiar enough, but in combination? I have to say, I was a little surprised. After reading the Old Testament passage I thought for sure we’d have the Parable of the Sower, another instance where the word of God is linked to something growing and flourishing, but no, the Church in her wisdom has given us the most familiar prayer in Christian history. Clearly a little more thinking is in order.

The Lord’s Prayer is nothing less than the Word of God teaching us what words to speak to God. John 1 tells us that the Word was with (and, indeed, was) God in the beginning, and through the Word everything was made. It’s a beautiful meditation, and well worth reading as often as possible. So here is that world-creating Word, using His own life-giving words and putting them in the mouths of all Christians from the very beginning of Christianity until Judgement Day. We know from the first reading that the word (or indeed Word) of God achieves God’s aims, and we know from yesterday’s readings that God’s aim for us is nothing less than holy perfection. So this passage, just like all of the words spoken to us by God (either by Christ or by the Spirit to the prophets and authors of the various books of the Bible), must be given to achieve God’s purpose of making us holy.

So, how has the Lord’s Prayer made you holy lately? When you pray, do you do it with sincerity, approaching God as your Father? Do you say the words and truly mean them? Do you skip over the short sentences praising God in order to get to the bit where you ask for things?

Do you think about what it really means to ask God that His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, or that His kingdom come?

Do you choke a bit on the ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us’ section?

Have you switched off by the time you ask to be delivered from evil?

I know my answers to these questions. And they make giving up chocolate seem like too small a penance for this penitential time.

Like in yesterday’s readings, these passages help to remind us not to get too comfortable. Don’t treat these passages like comfy slippers you can slip into and out of when you like. A better comparison would be to approach them like you would the gym or some form of exercise – perhaps going is a habit, but each time you focus on what you are doing in order to better yourself in some way.

And you feel better at the end for having gone.

lords20prayer

Copyright Mary Fleeson/Lindisfarne Scriptorium, found here

 

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