Saturday, May 19, 2012

The REAL Lord's Prayer? homily for 8.00 Easter 7B

The Lord's Prayer
That's how we describe the prayer that Jesus taught us...the one he offered when his disciples asked him how they ought to pray.
But in our gospel today we are allowed to eavesdrop on the Lord's prayer that he offers himself – the REAL Lord's prayer, if you like...the words that pass between Father and Son as Jesus prepares to leave the world, as, indeed, he prepares to die.

Time and again I find myself thinking, as I visit someone close to the end of their life-journey
"There's no room for pretence now...This is a time of relentless honesty, a time when we get to see what really matters, who are the real priorities"

And at this time in Jesus' earthly life who does he choose to pray for?

He prays for US

His disciples and all who would believe in him through their words.
The Church with all her aspirations and all her brokenness.

Here, as we listen to this outpouring from Son to Father, we glimpse ourselves as his Love sees us.

Although gospel writers, commentators, and preachers like to present the disciples as clueless and bumbling, we hear Jesus affirm them ("they know in truth that I came from you").
We hear him lift them up ("they do not belong to the world"), and tell us they were worthy companions on his journey ("they have kept your word").

More...they and we are his GLORY...
I have been glorified in them”

We may offer but the poorest reflection of Christ's righteousness and holiness, we may be dull, disobedient, slow to love but for all that, we are his glory.
This prayer of Jesus is very much about his followers today - it is not just limited to his first century disciples. We still need protection from the evil one, and sanctification for the work we do in the world. In our struggle to preach Christ crucified in a society blinded by material wealth at any cost and enamoured with creature comforts, it is this kind of prayer on our behalf that invokes the Holy Spirit. When we hear Jesus pray this prayer for us, it is a foretaste of the feast of Pentecost, a sampling of the clothing of power from on high...and goodness, we need that power.

While on retreat before my priesting, I was invited to read this prayer and imagine Jesus replacing every reference to the disciples with my own name.
It turned out to be one of the most powerful exercises I've ever undertaken.
“I am coming to you and I speak these things to you so that Kathryn...Mary...Eira...may have my joy made complete in her....”
When Jesus is alone with his Father – he talks about US...and longs for us to be filled with joy. 
How good is that"
To know that Christ prayed for "me" gives us strength when we thought we were exhausted, success when we believed ourselves failures, and vision to see transformation where it seemed that none was possible

On Thursday as we celebrated Ascension we remembered that for all our inadequacies, WE are the ones to whom Jesus entrusted his mission in the world. There is no “Plan B”...

Today we see that though he prays for our protection from the world, he does not want to remove us from it but sends us out to get on with that insistent God given task of loving the world into the Kingdom. 
This is not just the “real” Lord's Prayer but the ultimate Eucharistic Prayer...a prayer in which Jesus consecrates not bread and wine but his very self, drawing together in unity all that his Father has given him into unity and sending them, sending US, forth into the world.
Dare we, as we listen to this prayer, offer a heart-felt “Amen”?

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