The first reading for mass today is very gentle and peaceful, “Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” Is 55: 10-11
God’s Words are living words. They are unlike any other human words that we read. The words in sacred scripture come alive in our hearts and take on a life of their own. The scriptures are not just inspired by the Holy Spirit, they ignite the Spirit deep inside of us and spark the beginnings of God’s will for our lives. We can not remain unchanged by them. The little bits of scripture we hear every week at Mass change us ever so slowly over a long period of time. The change is so gradual that we may not even notice it, until we wake up one day and look back on our lives and realize the vast transformation that took place. God’s Word, found in the sacred scriptures are read to us each week at Mass. They affect us like little drops of water that we absorb into our hearts and then go into the world to live out the gospel in our lives.
It’s true what God says in this reading from the book of Isaiah. Even if we ignore the words in sacred scripture, disregard them, or get distracted from following through with them, God sees to it that His will is accomplished in our world anyway. It may be through other people instead of ourselves though. This is something to pay attention to. How would you feel if God asked you to do something (through the promptings of the Holy Spirit) and you disregarded these nudges from the Spirit? If you got distracted from following through on them, or didn’t trust the promptings of the Holy Spirit as being real and failed to do what He asked of you? Someone else ended up following through on God’s will instead of you. Wouldn’t you feel ashamed of yourself afterwards? You would have let God down. We are supposed to sprout when He waters us, otherwise we will never bloom and become fruitful, producing the fruit for His kingdom.
We receive grace itself every week at Mass, when we receive Jesus Christ in communion. He strengthens us to live out the gospel that we hear read at Mass each week. Confession also clears up the effects of sin, removing guilt and the traces of guilt that cloud the clarity and beauty of our souls. But, prayer is the main means of understanding God’s will for our lives.
The church teaches us and guides us throughout our lives, in the ways of love, faith, hope and charity. The formal structure of the Mass and the sacraments are anything but boring. They are beautiful because they do not change. Whether we are 8 years old sitting in the pews at Mass or 80 years old, the Mass is a constant, dependable grace in our lives that we can always depend on, no matter what. The mass never fails us. It is the unchanging foundation of our lives, throughout all the changes that we go through during our life cycle. Jesus walks with us, in word and sacrament.
The Lord’s Prayer is like this too. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. They needed some sort of clear structure, or clear guidelines on how to genuinely approach God in prayer. Jesus gave them a simple outline of prayer that contained all the basic elements that were important, but also the manner in which we should approach God when we pray.
The first thing Jesus taught us was basically to set ourselves aside. We should try not to think of ourselves and our own wants, needs, and desires when we first begin to pray. The main thing is to acknowledge God in our prayers and not put the focus so much on ourselves. The first part of the Lord’s Prayer starts out acknowledging God, “Our Father who art in heaven.”
The first half of the Lord’s Prayer is about Go and not about us. We should remember this in our everyday prayers too. We are so self centered at times, it is good to learn to set aside ourselves and thing about God for a few minutes. We also want God to do things for us. We ask Him for many things during the course of our lives, but the Lord’s Prayer teaches us that we should focus on God’s will for our lives, not just what we want.
God already knows what we need. We really need very little to survive. Bread is the staple of life. Throughout Christ’s life he mentions bread, both for our physical needs and the living bread, which comes down from heaven. Jesus multiplied the loaves and fed hungry people and commanded us to do the same. He cared very much if people had food to eat. He also doesn’t want us to mistreat each other and to forgive one another and let go of grudges when someone hurts us. Jesus wants us to obtain eternal salvation. God doesn’t want to see anyone go to hell or to suffer from the effects of evil either.
The Lord’s Prayer acknowledges God, that He is a higher power than ourselves and that we are not in charge of the world. God is. We should ask God for things, like our basic human needs, but we should also recognize that we are not supposed to be passive in our relationship with God. We shouldn’t expect Him to do everything for us. To forgive and not sin are also our responsibilities. When we are not very strong though, we should pray for God’s grace to strengthen us, to resist evil and the inclinations to sin that we are all born with.
Today’s readings are a gentle reminder that we are not in charge of the world. God is. But He loves us and so does Jesus.