Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

The LORD compares his Word to the rain and snow which fall from the heavens and do not return to the heavens without achieving their end: giving life to the earth. In the same way, the LORD says, his Word “shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Is 55:11). The Word of the Lord, which is Jesus Christ, but also the words that God offers us (as Isaiah indicates) is anything but an abstraction, but is living and dynamic, penetrating the depths of our existences while simultaneously communicating to us the vitality of God’s existence.

Often, however, we do not want to be bothered by the living dynamism of this Word, preferring flattened words with meanings that we can clearly delimit and control within our own systems. We reduce God’s Word to our word, and thus fashion God after our own image instead of letting ourselves be fashioned after His image and likeness. This, perhaps, is what happens when we “babble like the pagans.” We suppose God to be like us, and so pour our hearts out to him thinking that we be heard because of our “many words” (Mt 6:7).

Instead of reducing God’s Word to our own word, Jesus invites us to do something that can seem almost identical from the outside, but is actually radically different: Jesus invites us to make God’s Word our own. What is the difference? Instead of reducing God to our level by limiting his Word to what we can grasp (and possibly control), we are invited to receive God’s Word and then embrace it in its surpassing greatness so that it raises us it to the Word’s greatness, indeed, all the way back up to heaven from which it comes. This is what Jesus offers us in the “Our Father.” This is Jesus’ own Word to the Father, which he gives us so that it might become our word to the Father. When we pray this prayer to the Father with Jesus in the Holy Spirit, we always pray a Word that surpasses us, which we would never have arrived at in our babblings. We cannot grasp the full meaning of this prayer, but recognizing its origin in the love of the God who comes to save us, we can give our full assent to it and pray it as our own prayer, thus making God’s surpassing Word our own so that the Word can make us His own.

March 7th, 2017