How do you talk to God? That might be the question for all of us to contemplate as we listen to the Readings for this Sunday’s Liturgy. They are all about entering into this conversation with this being we call God. Abraham (Genesis 18: 20-32) has his own familial and intimate way in which he even haggles with God about the number to be saved from his wrath. Paul in the Second Reading (Colossians 2: 12-14) affirms the life and the prayer of those in the Christian community of Colossae in Greece which are guided by the Spirit of forgiveness. St. Luke in the Gospel (11: 1-13) gives us the short version of Jesus' prayer, The Our Father.
If we can glean one thing from both the Old and the New Testament it is the fact of having this God YAHWEH very proximate to his people. From the very first pages of the Book of Genesis the sacred author wants to present to the people the notion of God that is very close to who they are and what they do. God takes a walk in the Garden of Paradise and talks to Adam and enters a conversation that is self revelatory and that shows a great amount of tenderness even after the first parents have disobeyed the orders of the eating of the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve are expelled from the idyllic creation of the Garden of Paradise but from that time they will be embarking, along with all their descendants, in the journey of striving to be faithful to the covenants the people of God would swear to uphold only to be broken again and again. This God never leaves the conversation as his self-revelation progresses through generations. His presence and his promise of love and fidelity for the people of God (for us) remain unchanged. He will be their God and our God forever.
It is in the fullness of time that the Son of God, Jesus, is sent to the world to give the fullest expression of the conversation God wants to have with all, collectively and individually. And so in our time of history we can ask ourselves that initial question: How do I talk to God? I have a suspicion that the answer to this question is varied because if there one thing that spiritual directors often times stress is the fact that our God respects our very own personality, our own psychological condition, even as this changes from time to time. Our God never forces the issue of relationship even though through the entire revelation of salvation history one can detect the enormous desire of this God to establish this solid relationship of love and fidelity with mankind to the point of sending His Son Jesus to testify with his words and life the unconditional love of God for us. His love is extreme to the point of offering the Son's death so that our conversation with Him will be whole and with all human failures be erased and our INTIMATE PROXIMITY with God as we talk with Him will be something real and life giving for us.
And to lead us into a CONVERSATION that is real, proximate, intimate, life giving, fulfilling, Jesus, the first LOGOS, the first word of the ONE who initiates the conversation, says to us: When you wish to pray, say, Our Father Who are in Heaven.... We who are privileged to have those words must do our part in the conversation, knowing that we will not mess it up or say the wrong thing, but that the right words are said and that those words are pleasing to the Father because they have been taught to us by the Father's Son. We are indeed blessed to have such WORDS and such PRAYER.
The disciples of Jesus wanted to know how he talked to God and he tells them. Like a child with a parent. Like a Son to a loving Father, Jesus talking to God is the direct expression of a profoundly intimate relationship. Not an exclusive relationship that shuts out all others. Jesus' conversation with God is one that affirms the universal embrace of the divine parenthood as well as the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of all. His Father is OUR Father. He asks for our daily bread and for the forgiveness of our sins. We only have to honor the words and meaning of this prayer conversation with God by imbuing with this spirit all the relationships we have in the world. How does my manner of living, of giving, of acting, reflect this divine parentage? The Lord's Prayer is indeed a blessing to pray and a daily challenge to measure
our lives in the very lines Jesus gives to pray and to live.
Do you talk to God? How often during the day? Even if it is just to be present to Him and let Him be present to you? Throughout the week we strive to be aware for what we have prayed: That Our Father God be praised, that we may be fed, that we may forgive as we are forgiven, and that our earth may become, through God's grace and our efforts, a reflection of Heaven. AMEN.
May God's peace be with you always,