Friday, June 22, 2007

The Lord's Prayer

FRIARS CORNER:

A few weeks ago, a parishioner generously sent me a copy of Pope Benedict’s new book Jesus of Nazareth. Now, I have to say at first, I thought this was going to be a thick book to get through. Pope Benedict is well known as a thinker, a theologian, and I expected this book to be a heavy tome that would be full of good thoughts, but not exactly a page turner. Boy, was I wrong. This is a deeply spiritual book by our Holy Father, and while I probably should have skipped over the Foreword and Introduction which are a bit heady, the meat of this book is spectacular reflection for any soul. I highly recommend it. Let me share with you just a little bit from the book. Here is the Pope’s reflection upon the Lord’s Prayer:

“Luke prefaces the Lord’s Prayer with the following remark: Jesus ‘was praying at a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…”’

“The context, then, is that the disciples see Jesus praying and it awakens in them the wish to learn from him how to pray. Essential events in the course of his journey, in which his mystery is gradually unveiled, appear in this light as prayer events. Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Holy One of God is connected with encountering Jesus at prayer; the Transfiguration of Jesus is a prayer event.

“The fact that Luke places the Our Father in the context of Jesus’ own praying is therefore significant. Jesus thereby involves us in his own prayer; he leads us into the interior dialogue of triune love; he draws our human hardships deep into God’s heart, as it were. This also means, however, that the words of the Our Father are signposts to interior prayer, they provide a basic direction for our being, and they aim to configure us to the image of the Son. The meaning of the Our Father goes much further than the mere provision of a prayer text. It aims to form our being, to train us in the inner attitude of Jesus.

“This has two different implications for our interpretation of the Our Father. First of all, it is important to listen as accurately as possible to Jesus’ words as transmitted to us in Scripture. We must strive to recognize the thoughts Jesus wished to pass on to us in these words. But we must also keep in mind that the Our Father originates from his own praying, from the Son’s dialogue with the Father. This means that it reaches down into the depths far beyond the words. It embraces the whole compass of man’s being in all ages and can therefore never be fully fathomed by a purely historical exegesis, however important this may be.”

This is just a sampling of what is a profound book. I wholeheartedly encourage you to pick up a copy.

Love, Fr. Tom

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