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A treatise on the Lord’s Prayer

The gift of prayer is a gift of the Father given in Jesus’ name, Holy Spirit of God, come into our hearts and teach us to say “Abba, Father.” Teach us to proclaim, “Jesus is Lord.” Teach us to love God and to cling to him through you, Spirit of Love, who has been poured into our hearts. And when our own prayers fail us, you know the will of God, yourself pray with us. (Galatians 4; 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 5, 8).

Prayer is a personal relationship with God. Prayer should be expressed in deeds as well as words. My dear friends, why does the fact that God has taught us such a prayer as this astonish us? Did he not express all our prayers in His own words of life? Indeed this was already foretold by Isaiah. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke of the majesty and fidelity of God: “The Lord will speak a final brief of justice, a word throughout the world.”

Our Lord, Jesus Christ came for all mankind. He gathered together male and female, the learned and the unlearned, the old and the young and taught them his saving doctrine. He did not want his disciples to be burdened by memorizing his teaching; he made a complete summary of his commands such as was necessary for a trusting faith, and could be quickly learned.

Thus he summarized his teaching on the mystery of eternal life and its meaning with admirable and divine brevity: “And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you sent.” Again, in quoting the first and the greatest precept of the law, and prophets, he spoke in the same way: “Listen, Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is like it: “You must love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depends all that is in the law and the prophets. On another occasion the Lord said: Always treat others as you would like them to treat you: that is the meaning of the law and the prophets.

God taught us to pray not only with his words, but also by his actions. He taught us by his own example for he often prayed on our behalf. The Scripture says: “He withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.” And yet again: “He went into the hills and prayed and spent the whole night in prayer to God.” Was the sinless Lord praying for himself? No, he was praying and interceding on our behalf. He explained this to Peter: “Behold Satan demanded that he might sift you like wheat, but I prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” Later on he prayed to the Father for everyone: “I am not praying for these only, but for those who will believe in me through their preaching, that they may be one; just as you Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us.

He is not satisfied with redeeming us with his blood. He also prays to the Father on our behalf. Consider the love exemplified in that prayer. The Father and the Son are one; we too are to abide in that oneness — to you O Lord, I lift up my soul; I trust in you, O my God. Guide me in the way of your truth and teach me; for you are my saving God and I hope in you all day long. O Lord our God, you have brought all things into being from Christ and in Christ and for Christ. May we live the worship we offer you in lives of love and praise, through the same Christ; our Lord.

Psalm 34 we are reminded to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall ever be in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the Lord; the lowly will hear me and be glad. The Gospel, according to Matthew (Matthew 5:1-12) we come to understand the Greek word for “Blessed” — Makarios — which carries two meanings is Scripture. The “Blessed” one is described as the recipient of Divine Favor, and also as one who is “Happy” and “Fortunate.” In the Beatitudes, Jesus combined these meanings giving us a road map to help us not only to find happiness, but the blessing and grace of God in our lives. How jarring these Beatitudes must have seemed to the people who first heard Jesus speak them — just as they jar us today! How can the poor and the meek, the merciful and pure of heart, even the persecuted, consider themselves happy? Wouldn’t you naturally rally, recoil from such a description? This is precisely why Jesus’ words can be so challenging. Reality is not always what we see immediately in front of us.

My friends, Jesus had nowhere to lay his head (Matt 8:20) and was often misunderstood and treated with suspicion. Yet he was the most peaceful and joyful man ever to walk the earth. Why — Because he treasured his Father’s presence and his commands above all else. Jesus learned that those who entrust themselves to God will never be disappointed, and he invited his disciples to experience this blessing for themselves. He invites us all to become like him: poor in spirit, meek, merciful, hungering after righteousness and pure in heart. True to his promises, he has given us his Holy Spirit to teach us and empower us to follow his path. His life within us will always bring true happiness.

When Jesus described the rewards of such a life, Jesus used the future tense, because he wanted us to extend our vision beyond our earthly life to the kingdom he had come to inaugurate. We will be comforted, we will be satisfied, we will obtain mercy, and we will see God (Matt 5:4-8). The Beatitudes require a reorientation in our lives. Keep in mind that salvation is not being promised to different groups in society, but to everyone, no matter what his or her position is in life, who strive to follow the Spirit and meet the demands contained in the Beatitudes. All the Beatitudes have an eschatological meaning; that is, they promise us definitive salvation, not in this world, but in the next — for the Beatitudes do give us, in this life; peace in the midst of tribulation. The Beatitudes do not contain the entire teachings of the Gospel — but they do contain in embryo; the whole program for Christian perfection. The whole Christian life is no easy matter, but it is worthwhile, given the reward that Jesus offers — eternal life. May Christ dwell in our hearts through faith, and may charity be the root foundation of our life. (Eph 3:17).

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