Pentecost – June 4, 2017
By Father Peter Richards
Picking up from my last article on the “Our Father”,these next words come to mind, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Several helpful spiritual truths are contained in this phrase.
For one thing, our Lord is equating his will with his kingdom. In other words, his kingdom is present where his will is done. This reminds me of Jesus’ words: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) When we do God‘s will, we open ourselves to him — in our heart, mind, will, memory, desires and body. To put it another way, keeping the commandments makes us compatible with God, able to receive Him, able to walk in friendship with him. As the Prophet Amos put it, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
Our Lord is also saying that heaven is the place where his will is done. Duh, you might be thinking. Of course! God is there, right? Of course his will is done in heaven. But the reverse is also true. Wherever God‘s will is done, heaven is there. This means we can begin enjoying heaven here and now, in this life. Not fully, of course. We know from the Bible that in heaven, “there will be no more death, neither will there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4) and “nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood.”(Revelation 21:27) But even in this life, surrounded and wounded as we are by sin, sickness, tragedy, suffering, cruelty, pain, loss, grief, unemployment, disappointment and other difficulties, in as much as we do God‘s will, to that extent we are already in heaven. Whatever is going on around us and in our emotions, if we are doing God‘s will, deep down we can experience the presence, love and peace of God.
You may be wondering, “Does praying this prayer mean that God‘s will won‘t be done unless we pray for it?” No, and yes. No, because God is all-powerful. How could anyone stop him from doing what he wants? And we know from the Bible that in the big picture, in the over-all scheme of things, God‘s will will triumph. The Church‘s message will be spread all over the world; as Jesus put it, “This Gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world…” (Matthew 14:14). The Lord Jesus Christ will return, as he predicted: “For as the lightening comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man…Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory…” (Matthew 24:27, 30) We will be judged, and rewarded or punished: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) There will be “a new heaven and a new earth,” where “the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes…” (Revelation 21:1, 3-4) No one on earth can prevent God from doing these things.
On the other hand, we can prevent God’s will from being accomplished in our own souls. God has given us free will. We can choose to say “yes” to his love and grace, or to say “no” to him. We can choose to do his will, or not do it. We can accept his offer of friendship, or refuse it. When we pray this part of the “Our Father”, we are praying that we and all people will say “Yes” to God, and to all the wonderful things he wants to give us in Jesus Christ.
God bless you and Happy Pentecost! Fr. Richards