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General Audience

General Audience

 Paul VI Audience Hall   Wednesday, 20  March 2019

Fr. Peter Charles Crowther obl. sbso | The Presbytery, Bury Lane, Withnell, Chorley, PR6 8SD | Tel 01254 830 995 | Reg Charity: 232709


© 2019 St Joseph's Catholic Church, Withnell. All Rights Reserved.

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Continuing our catechesis on the “Lord’s Prayer”, today we focus on the third invocation: “Your will be done”. This must be read as united with the first two – “Hallowed be your name” and “Your Kingdom come” – so that together they form a triptych: “Hallowed be your name”, “Your Kingdom come”, “Your will be done”.

Before the care of the world by man, there is the tireless care God uses in relation to man and the world. All the Gospel reflects this inversion of perspective. The sinner Zacchaeus climbs a tree because he wants to see Jesus, but he does not know that, much earlier, God had looked for him. Jesus, when He arrives, tells him: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today”. And in the end, He declares “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Lk 19: 5-10). Here is the will of God, the one we pray to be done. What is the will of God incarnated in Jesus? Search and save what is lost. And we, in prayer, ask that the search for God be successful, that his universal plan of salvation be fulfilled, first, in each of us and then in the whole world. Have you thought about what it means that God is looking for me? Each one of us can say: “But, God is looking for me?” – “Yes! He is looking for you! He is looking for me”: He looks for each one, personally. But God is great! How much love there is behind all this.

God is not ambiguous, He does not hide behind enigmas, he has not planned the future of the world in an indecipherable way. No, He is clear. If we do not understand this, we risk not understanding the meaning of the third expression of the Lord’s Prayer. Indeed, the Bible is full of expressions that describe God’s positive will in relation to the world. And in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we find a collection of citations that bear witness to this faithful and patient divine will (cf. 2821-2827). And Saint Paul, in the First Letter to Timothy, writes that He “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2: 4). This, without a shadow of a doubt, is the will of God: the salvation of man, of man, of every one of us. God, with His love, knocks on the door of our heart. Why? To attract us; to attract us to Him and to lead us ahead on the path of salvation. God is close to every one of us with His love, to lead us by the hand to salvation. How much love there is behind this!

Therefore, praying “Your will be done”, we are not invited to bow our heads in a servile way, as though we were slaves. No! God wants us free; it is His love that frees us. The Lord’s Prayer, indeed, is the prayer of sons, not of slaves; but of sons who know their father’s heart and are of his plan of love. Woe to us if, pronouncing these words, we were to shrug our shoulders as a sign of surrender in the face of a destiny that repels us yet we are unable to change. On the contrary, it is a prayer full of ardent trust in God Who wants goodness, life, and salvation for us. A courageous, even combative prayer, because in the world there are many, too many situations that do not follow God’s plan. We all know them. To paraphrase the prophet Isaiah, we could say: “Here, Father, there is war, prevarication, exploitation; but we know that You want what is good for us, so we beg of you: let Your will be done! Lord, subvert the plans of the world, transform swords in plowshares and spears into pruning hooks; may no-one ever more practice the art of war!” (cf. 2: 49. God wants peace.

The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that ignites in us the same love of Jesus for the will of the Father, a flame that drives us to transform the world with love. The Christian does not believe in an ineluctable “fate”. There is nothing haphazard in the faith of Christians: there is instead a salvation that awaits manifestation in the life of every man and woman and fulfillment in eternity. If we pray it is because we believe that God can and wants to transform reality by overcoming evil with good. To this, God it makes sense to obey and abandon oneself even in the hour of greatest difficulty.

This was the case for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when He experienced anguish and prayed: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Lk 22: 42). Jesus is crushed by the evil of the world, but trustfully abandons Himself to the ocean of the love of the will of the Father. Even the martyrs, in their trial, did not seek death; they sought what came after death, resurrection. God, out of love, can lead us to walk on difficult paths, to experience painful wounds and thorns, but He will never abandon us. He will always be with us, next to us, within us. For a believer, this is not a hope but a certainty. God is with me. We find the same in that parable of the Gospel of Luke dedicated to the need to pray always. Jesus says: “Will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly” (18: 7.8). This is how the Lord loves us, in this way He cares for us. But, I want to invite you all together now to pray the Lord’s Prayer. And those of you who do not know Italian, pray in your own language. Let us pray together.

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from England, Belgium, Croatia, Norway, Nigeria, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. With prayerful good wishes that this Lent will be a time of grace and spiritual renewal for you and your families, I invoke upon all of you joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.