Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 17, 2001
The Our Father's long ending
By FR. JOHN SPICER
In this next-to-final column on the Our Father we'll ponder two points: the Our Father as a prayer to end-time, and on the ending to it that was used in early times and which is still in use today.
Near the beginning of the Our Father we pray for the coming of God's kingdom, "thy kingdom come." Such a petition engages us in a breath-taking adventure - the shaping of our world and of the entire universe.
Thus we are praying not just for today or tomorrow but for all time and for all that will take place in time.
Behind this petition is an all-embracing vision of life. For in praying for the coming of the kingdom we concern ourselves with how God's kingdom will unfold through the ages, how it will embrace all the peoples of the world and all things in the universe.
What a vision to embrace, to pray for and work towards!
As faithful Christians, then, we are never out of a job, never have time for thumb twiddling. Every second of our day is grace-filled, even our thoughts of rest and relaxation.
God is working in us and for us to further the coming of the kingdom, to bring about "a new heavens and a new earth."
What great dignity is ours! God is the master craftsman of the coming kingdom but we are God's helpers. We experience joy in helping any worthwhile enterprise.
But could there possibly be a greater and more important enterprise than the fashioning of humanity into God's image and in the fashioning of the earth and universe for eternal habitation?
The Our Father, then, is indeed a prayer not only for today but for eternity.
The second point concerning the Our Father is the ending sometimes attached to it, "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen."
This acclamation is not found in the scriptural Our Father. But it was used early on in Christian assemblies and has endured through the centuries. And well it might. For it is an excellent summary of what the Our Father is about.
The "amen" that ends both the scriptural Our Father and the later ending above, signifies our full consent to the petitions of the prayer and our full trust that God will bring them about.
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