With God For All
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10
A professor once told me that the most important word in the Our Father is our. Too many folks, he contended, think of this prayer as a private appeal to God for their own salvation. It is, rather, a communal plea for all-inclusive peace and justice. In a prayer as dense as the Lord’s Prayer I’m reluctant to choose one most important word but my teacher had an excellent point.
I don’t know if it is true around the world but Americans, and even we American Catholics, find it difficult to give up an individualistic view of our relationship with God. Maybe it’s anxiety about losing our personal independence. Maybe we’re leery of being saddled with responsibility for someone else’s standing with the Almighty. Maybe the difficulty is that we realize that if we take the our in the Our Father seriously, we can never again be casual about others’ material or spiritual welfare.
Whatever the reason, a generation after the Second Vatican Council’s extensive teaching on the communal nature of salvation, many of us have yet to make the idea our own. This makes it impossible to appreciate the liturgy, especially the Eucharist; impossible to understand Scripture and impossible to understand the Catholic moral Tradition. But most importantly when we view our salvation as separate from the current and eternal welfare of others, we deny others the full benefit of the goodness God offers through us.
We are rowers on a stormy sea in a small boat. We can’t afford to think individually. We will find land together or wander forever. Each person’s welfare is our concern.
A what’s-mine-is-mine-and-keep-your-hands-to-yourself attitude is destructive to our civil lives. It is lethal to our faith lives.