Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Matter of the Heart

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven

Reflection – On Friday’s blog the Pope wrote about the Our Father as a prayer which uniquely bears us into Christ’s own prayer to his Father, and hence into the very heart and life of the Trinity. He urged us to study the words of the prayer carefully, as the deepest truths about God, and hence the deepest truths about man, are held within it. So, being shepherded by our good German in that way, I am blogging my way through the Lord’s prayer for a few days.

So now we come to the cruncher of the prayer, where it all starts to get a bit ‘ouchy’ a bit ‘well, am I really praying this? Do I really mean this?’ We can at least make a leap of faith to God being our loving Father; we can acknowledge as a matter of sheer logic that He is transcendent in heaven and to be approached with reverence and devotion.

But… surrendering our will to Him? Ummm… can I get back to you on that one? Again, good ol’ logic kicks in here. We know that the kingdom of God is a way of saying a world ordered by perfect love, perfect truth, perfect justice leavened by perfect mercy. We know that God is all knowing, all good and all loving (well, we say we know this anyhow), and that therefore His will is our good.

But good ol’ logic only takes us so far on this path. We want to do our own will. We want to build our own kingdom. We like things arranged just as we want them. We may even have our own brilliant ideas about truth, justice, love and how to build God’s kingdom on earth. We’re not all sociopaths accruing personal power and wealth while cackling over the corpses of our enemies.

We’re nice people! Nice people who just want to do things our way! Nothing wrong with that. Oh wait… there’s everything in the world wrong with that. ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’

Well, what is this will of God anyhow, that’s so all-fired important! I was just talking with someone about this recently. The person was agonizing over what God’s will was in a specific situation, and very disturbed at the prospect of doing something against God’s will. As I said to this person, you know, He doesn’t send us a registered letter each day detailing His will for our day.

We are meant to seek God’s will, long for God’s will, pray for God’s will, do it without question and without hesitation when it is revealed, and never do anything that we know is against His will (i.e. violate the moral law). But if God required us to perform His perfect will at every moment without faltering or stumbling or ever making the slightest mistake, He would be required as a matter of justice to, in fact, send us that registered letter each day, to make His perfect will perfectly clear at each moment to us.

I don’t know about you, but that is not the world I live in. God’s will is murky at times, somewhat clearer at other times. I live in a community where I have a superior and obedience, and this helps. Most of us spend our days with fairly obvious chores and demands in front of our noses, and that certainly helps.

But of course we can discern wrongly, and step outside his will, and He clearly allows us to do so and, I will be bold to say, doesn’t seriously mind. This is how we learn discernment, by doing things that were not quite it and stubbing our toes or bruising our noses on the brick walls of ‘not-God’s-will.’

It’s primarily a matter of the heart, this petition of the Lord’s will. To long for the kingdom, to long for God’s will, to ask for it, beg for it, desire it with fervent desire. And to know—really know—that our own will and our own kingdom are not really taking us to a happy place.

You know, this is how we live out that ‘hallowed be thy name’, that reverence to God. By seeking His will. He is our Father who loves us, is greater than us and worthy of reverent praise and worship, and so we are to cast aside all concerns but to do what He wishes of us. This how Jesus was with His Father, this is truly a reflection of the life of the Trinity, the Son from and with the Father from all eternity. And this is the true path of human life in this world, reflecting and destined to share in that divine life.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.


  1. There is a prayer by Thomas Merton that includes this:

    "But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire."

    I am really enjoying these posts about the Lord's Prayer. Thank you.

    1. That's a great quote... come to think of it, some of my thinking on this matter got clarified by Merton many moons ago. Glad you're enjoying these posts - I may do stuff like that from time to time ont he blog, just to mix things up a bit.

  2. Some years back, my friend Joe said to me that God cannot save us unless we accept the fact that we are loved. I am still learning to accept this, and think it least for of the most difficult surrenders possible. Perhaps, impossible for some of us humanly. But once you get that, you begin to realize that his will is in that love...inside yourself...and you can't really violate that..turn against it...without violating yourself.... Turning against the love that God wills for us only leads to violence against yourself...and ultimately others.
    As you say, God of course, forgives us. Mercy. That is what Jesus is all about. Calling us back to Communion with God.
    If only, we could just stay close to Jesus. is all very mysterious isn't it? God's will to love us and mercy. is best for me just to stick to the words Jesus gave us.....


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