Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 29, 2001
Familiar prayers call for more reflection
By FR. JOHN SPICER
Our daily life tends to be a humdrum affair. We do the same things over and over till they become routine and cease to challenge us.
The same thing happens in our prayer life. We say the same prayers over and over until they too cease to challenge and inspire us. This is not good. For God is ever offering us new and deeper insights.
What to do? One thing we can do is seek new meanings in the words of our traditional prayers. For every word (or phrase) of such prayers is a door to immense riches.
Doors are meant to be opened and entered. So let us push open the prayer doors and enter them, pausing at each word, or phrase, as we explore their meaning.
To assist you in this endeavour I offer a series of articles on some of our traditional prayers, beginning with our most traditional prayer, the one taught us by Jesus himself, the Our Father.
Right off, the word "Father" causes a problem. Our times favour inclusive language. Yet God has no gender. He is pure spirit. Moreover all the qualities of fatherhood and motherhood are in God to the highest degree. So how to meet this difficulty?
The Jewish people in Jesus' day addressed God as "Father." For they lived in a patriarchal age. The use of "Father" for God caused them no problem. But we today are at least uneasy in the sole use of "Father." What to do?
In some ways we balance the picture. For instance, we refer to the Church as "our holy Mother, the Church." And we address Our Lady as Mother Mary.
So until a more fitting way of wording the Our Father comes along, if indeed it does, we continue to use the traditional term aware of language limitations.
To conclude this first article I suggest we look into the "Our" of the Our Father. In using it Jesus put us at his own side and also at one another's side. God is the Father of Jesus and of us.
We are truly brothers and sisters of Jesus and of one another. We are so not only because of our common human nature but even more so through the "new life" we have through Jesus, the life he referred to when his relatives come seeking him.
He said to them, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" Then, pointing to those around him, he continued, "Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
Surely a truth to ponder.
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