Hallowed be Thy name
By Jacqui-Theresa Leiba
Last Sunday’s gospel emphasised the mystical prayer of the contemplative, as Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening with her entire being enraptured. “Contemplative prayer seeks him who my soul loves. It is Jesus, and in him, the Father,” says St Teresa of Avila.
This Sunday’s reading introduces the perfect vocal prayer as taught by Jesus and invites a poetic cadence in the spirit of contemplation.
“Our Father, hallowed be Thy name” is the cry of all creation. In joy, sorrow, praise, thanksgiving, and the shushed lullaby of a quiet, weakened soul at the Father’s breast.
“Our Father”, is the suffering silent cry of the needy, the physically and psychologically infirmed, fearful souls and those searching for what it means to be truly human.
“Our Father” is the collective chorus of the joyful creature sounds of Mother Nature to the benevolent Creator as she sustains and feeds, gives birth, grows and dies, in her capacity of embracing and holding the earth in giving life to all creatures.
“Our Father” is the quiet whisper of the tree, river, forest, vegetation, ocean, sea, lake, river, plant, animal, livestock, bird and fish dying from lack of human care, sabotaged by the cold hearts and appetites of the insensitive and the greedy.
“Our Father” is the wordless cry of a newborn baby, brought into the world, received in joyful expectation by loving, human hearts.
“Our Father” is also the silenced, anguished cry of the aborted one, who loses the chance to take that first breath. It is the heart-wrenching plea of the almost-there human called to earthly life, carrier of God’s potential glory as priest, prophet, king, artist, scientist, liberator, poet, composer, teacher, mother, father, master carpenter and plumber.
“Our Father!” is the shout of the voices of the souls of triumphant men, who have come to know their God, and understand what it means to be a man seeking His heart.
It is also the numbed, unconscious cry of hurting men who drown their pain by causing pain, who use their bodies’ musculature and brute force strength, not to protect their weaker women folk or the ageing and infirmed, but to abuse and sometimes destroy.
There is hurt and pain of not knowing “Our Father” and instead know no father or mother, no benevolent, wise, trusting, human to share the Creator’s love.
“Our Father!” is the joyful shout of women who are no longer limited by roles, titles and perceptions and have come to know and love their God. They share that holy gift to love and nurture, bond and care in total freedom.
It is also the silent scream of sorrowful mothers whose sons have found themselves on the wrong side of the law, some guilty, others not. Their hearts are wrenched in the hurt and pain of what body, mind and soul must endure. The illusion of ‘good boy’ soon begins to wane as the stark reality hits home that ‘good boy’ has done things unthinkable.
“Our Father” is the ecstatic cry of the mystic soul, who discovers the larger more benevolent heart and mind of God in this life. The One True identity in the flow of God’s love for all of creation.
Joined in the Oneness, the tears of joy at being found and tears of painful anguish for the many being lost.
“Our Father” is the plea of the human heart, thirsting and waiting on the Father for the outpouring of the Spirit, knowing that human striving after other gods is fruitless, “for what does it profit a man to gain the world and forfeit his own soul” (Mk 8:36).
Our Father, hallowed be Thy name. Amen.
Jacqui-Theresa Leiba is a Catholic primary school teacher and parishioner of St Patrick’s RC Church, Newtown.