A reading from the Book of Proverbs
“Thus says the wisdom of God: ‘The Lord possessed me, the beginning of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.’” Who or what is this wisdom that seems to speak as a person? Is it God himself, or herself, because in the Hebrew Scriptures wisdom was often called Lady Wisdom? Later, in the Gospels, Jesus is called the Wisdom of God. Are you confused? Join the crowd that has been trying to determine this for two thousand years. We who are Christians or Jews refer to ourselves as monotheists, people who believe that there is only one God, and yet we Christians believe that Jesus is God and that the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent is also God. How does this all fit together? Welcome to the greatest mystery of our faith—the Holy Trinity, one God who is three Persons. This is not a mystery to be solved. It is the mystery that you and I live in every day, the mystery of God’s unconditional love.
Remember when you were taught as a child that you were created in the image and likeness of God? That God is not an isolated single being somewhere out there but rather a community of persons—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And that God’s very Spirit lives within each of us even when we are off track, when we have seriously sinned or have disbelieved. God never abandons us.
It also means that we are not meant to be alone. We are communal beings created by our God who is a community of persons. That is why we long for the love and friendship of others, why we are willing to make great sacrifices for our families and friends and our larger communities. It is a major part of our spiritual DNA. Let us rejoice in who we truly are, not only created in the image and likeness of God but living our lives in that divine and human community.
(Psalm 8”4-5, 6-7, 8-9)
“O Lord, our God, how wonderful is your name in all the earth.” Our love for one another is what makes God’s name wonderful. We are God’s messengers of that love.
A reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans
Paul is writing at a time of great persecution and suffering, so he wants his people to have hope. “Brothers and sisters . . . since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that but we boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character , hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Do you pray in the Spirit of hope, realizing that the answer to our prayers is often not what we may expect or when we expect it? Some prayers seem to be answered soon, others in time, and still others in ways we had not imagined. Yet, we pray in hope in the embrace of our God—all three Persons—in our Community of Divine Love.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
Remember that John lived for many years after the death of Jesus and had much time to pray and be inspired to share deep truths not recorded in the other Gospels. Here, he gives us more clues about our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but will speak what he hears, and will declare for you the things that are coming. . . . Everything that the Father has is mine. . . .”
All of this is a deep, enduring truth. God is a community of persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer it is not just to the Father but also an entry prayer into the depths of the Holy Trinity. It is the Holy Spirit within us that carries forth the prayer, and it is Jesus our brother who is always with us in our prayer. Our prayer is not simply a series of words but a communication with the Holy Community of which we are a part, whether we pray silently by ourselves or as part of the Eucharistic Assembly.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayers was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.