Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 14, 2021
Prayer being one of the three pillars of Lent, along with fasting and almsgiving…it might be helpful to approach this Sunday’s Readings from the perspective of The Eucharist…the most excellent of prayers…The Source and Summit of our faith.
Consider the exchange between the celebrant and the community prior to the Consecration.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right and just.
The enormous importance of this little “litany” might be lost to folks who speak these highly significant words in the casual, almost unthinking way we sometimes exchange greetings. Morning! not even taking the time to say “GOOD,” or Hi! as if one syllable less than the full “HELLO” is a real time saver.
We can be economical with our words and still be understood. The same is true with prayer. We don’t always need lengthy and structured prayers to satisfy “our need” to speak to God, Who is fully aware of our every thought, word, and action.
Still, for our own benefit, we should not allow prayer to become rote, automatic, or unthinking. It is very important for us to be fully conscious of the meaning and significance of what we are praying/saying…no matter how long or brief our prayer might be. We should make our communications with God purposeful and intentional. For example, it is our loss to simply “rattle off” those words: “WE LIFT THEM UP TO THE LORD.”
When we answer the call to “lift up your hearts,” it should be with the intention of doing just that. To “lift up our hearts” to the Lord is to consciously and purposefully raise up to God all that we are and all that we hope to become.
At its core, this brief prayer is an offering to our Creator made in trust and with confidence that God will take what is good and holy to the Divine Self, and at the very same time, accept with love and forgiveness what is not, returning our hearts healed and sanctified.
Moreover, when we reply without thought or feeling, we forego the opportunity to participate in the cosmic “lifting up” of Good Friday predicted in today’s passage from John’s Gospel. Jesus, LIFTED UP on the Cross, was the perfect prayer. It was The Son’s way of expressing total confidence and trust in the Father’s infinite power, mercy, and love.
Jesus consciously and purposefully entered into His Passion and accepted His death, and in doing so, extended to the Father a perfect expression of unconditional love. In reply, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father “lifted up” the Son through His Resurrection…the perfect and unconditional:
I LOVE YOU, TOO!
During these final days of Lent, we might begin our special prayer time by consciously and intentionally LIFTING UP OUR HEARTS TO THE LORD…along with our words.
IT IS RIGHT AND JUST!
This gesture of “lifting up” is an excellent way to express our love and gratitude to The Almighty…especially during The Eucharist, when our hearts are joined to that of the Crucified Christ. When we “lift up our hearts” in union with The Lord’s suffering and death, we are expressing our trust that one day, we, too, will be “lifted up” to share in Christ’s resurrected glory!