Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Our Father: Part 1

I was on retreat in La Verna in the beginning of October, and my mind was focused on the theme of love of God and neighbor and how one can only love with the love God gives us.

So with this in mind, it struck me that the Our Father is a prayer that could be seen as a string of reminders of the love God has for us and of our love of God and neighbor.

"Our Father who art in heaven": The mere fact that God reveals Himself to us as Father means that He provides for us and also means that He gives Himself to us in an intimate relationship of Love.

"Hallowed be Thy Name": In the Old Testament, the Name of God (YHWH) was held as sacred because its meaning was a reminder to the people of Israel that "I am He Who is in your midst." In other words, for the LORD (the use of all caps in the English translations of the Bible is a means to translate the use of the name of God, YHWH, while still being respectful to the sensitivities of the Jewish people to not pronounce it) to remind His people of His Name after instructing them in His commandments is to place the emphasis on God's gift of Himself to His people first and foremost and to instruct them that the law is to be lived as a response of love to God Who first loved them and reveals Himself to them.

In the book of Malachi, the LORD chastises His people for dispising His Name by not offering the best of sacrifices. In other words, some of the people thought that if they simply offered a sacrifice, this would put them in God's good graces. They would not offer the best out of love for God but simply look to instrumentalize the temple. What's more, the LORD chastises His people in the Old Testament for offering sacrifices without any concern for moral uprightness, and in this way, He says they are desecrating His Name among the nations.

So, to Hallow the Name of God is not only to keep in mind God's first love... the gift of Himself in revealing Himself as He Who is in our midst, but to then act out of this love, ie to love God and one's neighbor and not simply say one loves God.

So by saying "Hallowed be Thy Name", not only are we recalling God's gift of Himself to us, but we are asking also that He give us the grace we need to truly "Hallow" His name by living out the command to love Him and our neighbor as a response to His wonderous and gracious love.


Pia said...

This may sound weird, but I woke up this morning thinking in a sort of mix of Spanish/italian...It's not totally off the wall... I did study Spanish years ago, although my thoughts were surely more italian than spanish, lol. I was thinking in that language because a Columbian friend of mine lost her father a few weeks ago and now her mom has come to spend a bit of time with her daughter. I found myself thinking of what I would like to say to these friends: "our hearts are not just a muscle that contracts and keeps us alive. In fact, our heart may beat, but we are not necessarily truly alive...Our hearts instead, are a place, an immense space inside us, which can be taken up by many thoughts and things...during Advent, most especially we need to make room in this space for the Lord-who is always there, but who only takes up the space we are willing to give Him. If we turn inwards, the more hospitable we become, and we can meet Him in this space inside us. Not only this. We can encounter all those who are with Him-our loved ones, the Communion of Saints. From this encounter, our heart expands and when our heart expands, we are increasingly capable of spreading that love that is communicated to us, thus becoming a sign of God's presence in this world.

Well, I don't know if I'm going off the deep end, but it was just so wonderful to have a heart filled with such thoughts first thing in the morning!

PS. It's great to see you back!

Pia said...

ps I meant to post that comment on the reflection for the first monday of advent...

Br. Chris Gaffrey, ofm said...

Thanks for the comments Pia. A friend of mine had been nagging me to update. I had started a post... the Our Father one, but simply didn't finish it. I'll put the finishing touches on it at a more sane moment. Right now I'm busy with school.

I certainly understand the Spanish/Italian confusion. I still mix words up every now and then since I was in Guatemala this summer.

Thanks for the reflection on the heart. I think it does indeed say something deep. We are to look into our hearts and as Austine said, look out as well, to Christ and to others so as to bring His love to them as well.

Thanks again for the comment.