KNOWING THE FATHER THROUGH JESUS IS THE WAY TO FINDING PEACE AND SECURITY
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [2 COR 11:1-11; MT 6:7-15 ]
We are so miserable and full of anxiety. As a consequence, we fall into sin because of fear. St Paul speaks about how easily we are led astray by false lights. Many of us are sinful and hence can no longer see our sins. We have a false sense of righteousness that comes with being more closed than open to the mystery of God’s love. We see absolutes where God sees shades of gray.
The cause of all our problems in life is because we do not know God and especially that God is our Father! This is the consequence of secularism and materialism. When you do not believe in God, then one has to depend on oneself.
This is why the proclamation of the Father’s love is the heart of Jesus’ message. This is why He taught us the Lord’s Prayer.
But how many of us can truly pray this prayer? We do not pray with joy and confidence. If we do, then we would no longer have any fear. We might know the Lord’s Prayer but we do not pray in the Spirit of Christ’s sonship. We are just like the Pharisees and recite it like a parrot.
What does it mean to pray in Christ’s sonship? It means to know the Father’s love as Jesus knew Him whom He called Abba Father. This was the same experience of St Paul too. Jesus’ life and ministry and teaching are demonstrated by the love of His Father for Him.
God loves us and is jealous for us in love. This divine jealousy is certainly nothing petty or selfish – in the Old Testament, God’s jealousy was aroused when people turned to false gods or clearly failed in some other way in showing reverence to the one true God. Even though it’s not often spoken of today, God’s jealousy is still as real as ever! God is indeed jealous – He wants us to be completely His! And since our Father in Heaven created us, redeemed us, and showered us with His blessings, there is no reason for Him to settle for anything less on our part.
Secondly, it means to imitate His son. “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” What is the perfection of love? To love our enemies, and love them to the point of their becoming our brothers. For indeed, our love should not be according to the flesh. So love your enemies by wanting them to become your brothers; love your enemies in such a way that they may be drawn into communion with you. This is in fact how He loved us. When hanging on the cross, He said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Lk 23, 34). He wanted to snatch us away from everlasting death by this prayer. “By this sign we know that we dwell in him, if we are perfect in him.” Our Lord invites us to this perfection of love when He says: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Thirdly, if we know the Father’s love we will do His will. Indeed, it is Jesus’ confidence in the Father’s love that enabled Him to give Himself completely to the Father’s mission. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The will of God is what Christ did and taught: humility in His conduct, solidity in His faith, modesty in His words, justice in His acts, mercy in His works, and discipline in His habits. It is the will of God that we not act wrongly towards anyone, to bear the wrong that is done to us, to maintain peace with our brothers, to love God with all our heart, to love Him because He is the Father, and to fear Him because He is God. Not to prefer anything over Christ, since He preferred us over everything, to adhere inviolably to His love, to stay beneath the cross with courage and trust. When it is a matter of fighting for His name or His honor, to show constancy in our words; to prove that we trust in the midst of difficulties so as to bear the struggle, to be patient in death so as to obtain the crown. That is what wanting to be co-heirs with Christ means: to fulfill God’s precepts, to do God’s will.
Fourthly, to love the Father is to love all His children. That is why the Lord’s Prayer is always prayed as a communal prayer. The Teacher of peace and Master of unity did not want prayer to be made singly and privately, as whoever prays alone would pray for himself. We do not say My Father, who art in heaven or Give me this day my daily bread; nor does each one ask that only his own debt should be forgiven him; nor does he request for himself alone that he may not be led into temptation but delivered from evil. Our prayer is public and common, and when we pray, we pray not for one person but for the whole people, since we, the whole people, are one. And therefore, as they prayed, their prayers were heard and were fruitful, because a peaceful, sincere, and spiritual prayer deserves well from the Lord. Thus we find the Apostles and the disciples praying after the ascension of the Lord: They all continued with one accord in prayer, with the women and with Mary who was the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. They continued with one accord in prayer, showing by the urgency and the unanimity of their praying that God, who makes the inhabitants of a house to be of one mind, only admits to His divine and eternal home those among whom prayer is unanimous.
But it also calls for a concrete living out of this prayer. What we pray is how we live. Jesus’ prayer includes an injunction that we must ask God to forgive us in proportion as we forgive those who have wronged us. Ask the Lord to free your heart of any anger, bitterness, resentment, selfishness, indifference, or coldness towards others. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with the fire of His burning love and compassion and with the river of His overflowing mercy and kindness.
We must also love our neighbour. God is kind and forgiving towards us and He expects us to treat our neighbour the same. Do you treat others as they deserve, or do you treat them as the Lord would treat you with His grace and favor and mercy? Like Paul, share the Gospel free of charge. What a joy it is to put people under no obligation when aiding them into a deeper and truer love relationship with Christ!
Loving our neighbour means that we are called to forgive each other because the Father always forgives us. Again this is the secret of Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness for us on the cross. We should forgive others for their shortcomings as we would have God forgive us. What does it mean to forgive?
Certainly, it means to pardon, to relieve another of a debt. But it also means to let go, to release feelings of resentment, to calm the anger and to look past the offence. This is tough, to forgive others. It is easy for us to mouth the words, but can we heal the hurts and forget the pain that the other has caused us? Can we, as does God, wipe the slate clean? And can we leave to God the things that are God’s – judgment and punishment, vengeance and retribution – and keep to ourselves what Jesus calls us to do – to love without question?
How difficult it is to set aside the rule in Exodus of “an eye for an eye” and to embrace Jesus’ call that we forgive those who wrong us seventy times seven! And even more difficult than forgiving another is to forgive ourselves, to recognize that we are sinful and not perfect, and so will make mistakes, over and over again, for as long as we live. Perhaps “forgive” implies too much. God can fully forgive, and God can decide what consequences the victimizer should pay. Perhaps all we are capable of is trying to love the victimizer as Jesus would, by letting go of our resentments and hurt feelings. When we remember that we too are sinful, we too hurt others, we too have much to account for, shouldn’t it be easier to see ourselves in the person who has harmed us? Shouldn’t we be able to see Jesus there as well?
How can we pray in Christ’s Sonship? To be able to pray the Lord’s Prayer, we must know Jesus and accept Jesus as the son of the Father. This is eternal life, to know Jesus as the One sent by the Father. Unfortunately, “He came to His own, and His own did not accept Him. But to those who did accept Him, He gave power to become children of God.” (Jn 1:11-12) Whoever believes in God’s name and has become His son, should start here so that He can give thanks and profess Himself to be God’s son, by calling God His Father in heaven.
Finally, it is through the gift of the Holy Spirit that we can know God personally and call him “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). We can approach God our Father with confidence and boldness because Jesus Christ has opened the way to heaven for us through His death and resurrection. When we ask God for help, He fortunately does not give us what we deserve. Instead, He responds with grace and favor and mercy. It is His nature to love generously and to forgive mercifully. When He gives, He gives more than we need so we will have something to share with others in their need as well.
Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved
Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
- Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
- Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
- It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.
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