May 20, 2009

Thy Will Be Done

My friends, let's continue thinking on the Lord's Prayer today.

Previous posts in the series:
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

These eleven words carry a lot of meaning, and different meanings, as St. Augustine teaches us. First, the will of God is that we love each other as He has loved us. (CCC 2822) He created us, which is an act of total, selfless love - agape. We couldn't merit that gift of life because we didn't yet exist. He literally gave us the whole world when we deserved nothing. When we pray these words, we ask to have that selfless love, that charity, toward others and receive it ourselves.

Second, God's will for us is salvation. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." (John 3:16) How greatly we (should) want for that will to be done! In His great generosity, God allows us to actively help in His plan of salvation, to be one spirit with Christ and help do His will on earth.

Third, the will of God is executed in heaven by the angels. (Augustine) We pray to have the dedication, speed, and wisdom of the angels in our own acts of doing God's will. We don't want to just do God's will, want to do it as well as it's done in Heaven.

Lastly, when we pray "Thy will be done", we are echoing Christ's words at Gethsemane. Not my will but yours. Your will be done. (Luke 22:42, CCC 2824) These are words both very easy to say and very difficult to mean. We relish our personal freedom and forget, too easily, that our freedom is relative. We are free, paradoxically, because God has chosen that for us. When it comes down to it, we owe all to God and His will should be done over our own by right. God is infinitely deserving; we, infinitely indebted.

Ultimately, we pray that God's will be done in us on earth. What could actually stop God's will from being done? (Cyprian) Nothing, for he is all-powerful. What we really pray for is ourselves. We pray that we, on earth, may be free of our own sinful pride and hardheartedness, protected from the influence of Sata, and able to do God's will. We do not pray that God's will be done, because He does not need our help. We pray that it may be done by us and in us.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2d ed. (Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1997).

Augustine of Hippo, Macmullen R. G. (trans.), Schaff, P. (ed.), "Sermon LVII." Available from Accessed 20 May, 2009.

St. Cyprian, "Thy Kingdom Come -- St. Cyprian on the Lord's Prayer." Available from Internet; accessed 20 May 2009.

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