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Tuesday, first week of Lent

February 15, 2005

Blessed Tuesday!

Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11 (God’s word will not return void)
Psalm 34:4-19 “From all their afflictions God will deliver the just”
+Matthew 6:7-15 (Jesus gives us the “Our Father”)

Talk is cheap nowadays. We make words mean whatever suits our fancy–or nothing at all. So many are void before they even leave the speaker’s mouth, let alone have a chance to return.

God’s Word is not like that.

God’s Word, Jesus (John 1:1-5, 14), is the very personification of Truth (John 14:6). His Word is filled full of the ultimate meaning of life. He is Life. And His Word will not return empty. As surely as rain and snow water the ground and make crops grow, God’s Word will fulfill His purpose. We can stake our lives on that. His Word is the Rock upon which we can set the foundation of our lives, knowing that no storms, floods or winds will be able to shake us (Matthew 7:24-25). What blessed security! No wonder the Psalmist tells us to look to Him that we may be radiant with joy (see Psalm 34:6)! Happy indeed the man who takes refuge in Him (see Psalm 34:9)!

We are called to become like Christ, the Word of God. Our words, too, need to be full, meaningful. Jesus highlighted this when He cautioned, “And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.” (Matthew 6:7). In other words, when you’re talking to God, don’t just mouth empty words. Fill them. Better yet, discover the meaning that’s already in them, that you’ve overlooked. Jesus went on to give us words so full of meaning that we will never exhaust them, although they may exhaust us.

“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name,
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our supersubstantial bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation.
But deliver us from evil. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

Be assured that God will answer this prayer in response to the way we live up to our end of it. He will bring glory to His holy Name, whether that’s by upholding our attempts to honor His Name or by counteracting the sins by which we dishonor His Name. His Kingdom will come and His will is done, often despite us. Each day, He will give us the Bread of Life–Jesus Himself–although it won’t do us any good unless we receive Him. Even if we are unable to attend Mass, we can always make a spiritual Communion (for those who are unfamiliar with this concept, here’s a sample prayer for making a spiritual Communion –there are others, or you can use your own words, but this will give you the basic idea:
“My Jesus, I believe that You are in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you above all things, and I long for You in my soul.
Since I cannot now receive You Sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself entirely to You;
never permit me to be separated from You.”)

God will forgive our sins when we confess them and hold up our end of the bargain by forgiving those who have sinned against us. God won’t lead us into sin (“God is not a tempter of evils, and He tempteth no man” -James 1:13), although we may lead ourselves into sin. And He will deliver us from sin through our obedience to His Word.

The “Our Father”, and the other prayers of the Church (especially the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours) are God’s means of teaching His children to talk. “We know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself pleads for us with unutterable groanings. And He that searches hearts knows what the Spirit desires, that He pleads for the saints according to God” (Romans 8:26-27). We run out of words, and to a large extent we don’t know how to pray according to God’s will in the first place.

We see this phenomenon of running out of words in other walks of life too. People buy cards, sing songs and share quotes–all using someone else’s words–because their own words just don’t capture all they want to say. We have the advantage in that God Himself gave us these words. The prayers of the Church are the words God gives to His Bride (the Church), so that She will have a gift worthy of Her divine Bridegroom. We don’t have to wonder what to say. He gives us a hands-on lesson in how to pray. He helps us join in with the Spirit’s pleading.

If we find that we don’t mean the words of the Mass (or other prayers), that just means we haven’t grown into them yet. Our little feet don’t fill God’s shoes. We need to delve into the words more deeply, with the God who authored them. We need to do our homework, ask questions, go in for tutoring, do whatever it takes to make these words our own.

May God’s Word fill our words.

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