Friday, June 25, 2021

The Our Father Prayer for Wholeness

In the recent Kyeongyang Magazine, a professor of Scripture gives the readers some thoughts on the meaning of the Our Father. He introduces the article with the mention of the three Basilicas built by Emperor Constantine in Jerusalem, mentioned by Eusebius of Caesarea in AD 260-340. They are the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and the Church on the Mount of Olives.

Helena the mother of the Emperor was instrumental in building the Church on the Mount of Olives and it was this Church that the Bordeaux pilgrims visited in 333 AD. This Church was destroyed by the Persians in 614, and the Crusaders in 1106 made it into a place of prayer, the spot that that tradition says Jesus taught the disciples the Our Father.

It is here that in 1875 a Church and a Carmel Convent were built and the "Pater Noster" Church was built. The Our Father is inscribed on tiles in over 80 different languages both in Catholic and Protestant forms.

Old Testament vision sees Heaven as God's world and earth as the abode of humans. However, Jesus did not separate these two. Heaven and Earth were not in opposition to each other but were integrated and communicated with each other. The earth was not isolated from Heaven. Jesus wanted the values of heaven to be realized here on earth.

Jesus in his prayer prayed that the will of God in heaven would be realized here on earth (Matt.6:10). This is the central them of the prayer. We see here the contrast between what is above and what is below.

Above is heaven God's world, below is the earth our home.
If the heavens are transcendent and unknown, and the ideal beyond, the earth is present, wisdom, history, and reality. However, in daily life, we experience alienation between the ideal and our reality. The separation of heaven and earth is too great. However, Jesus has come to us from heaven and has returned to heaven and has joined us together with heaven.

In Christ, we have found a new integrated way in which to live. Heaven and Earth's connection have not been ruptured or separated but communication and mutual understanding continue. Our two feet are planted here on earth but like a tree, our vision is towards heaven.

In the Our Father, God and humanity, individuals and individuals, humanity and all creation desire a proper relationship: asking for a correct relationship between all of creation. A just society, ecological justice, we are all connected and need to cooperate with each other. This living in a just manner with all of creation is what we mean by salvation.

In the last petition, Jesus is asking us to free ourselves from evil. Since this is not within our power we ask for help. He asks us also to fight against the temptation to abandon the vision we have received on justice in society and with all of nature.

Evil can control us, manipulate, and rule us, the realization of God's kingdom is prevented by power, structures, and our tendencies. To be liberated from evil we must first of all desire his kingdom and his justice.

Jesus who was a man of prayer is asking us to pray. The way we pray tells us the kind of thoughts and the relationship we have with God. In other words, our faith life and present relationship with God is made clear to us.

In the Our Father, we are given an integrated viewpoint and invited to participate and to realize it in our lives. We are invited to help change this world in the way God wants.

Do we pray? What is our prayer? How do we pray? The answer to these questions will tell us where we stand now and our present spiritual life.

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