With the love and the joy of angels

    February 20, 2024

    In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives his disciples — and us — the words and the confidence to pray to God not as a distant and inscrutable figure, but as our Father. Our Father, who, like an earthly father, wants to hear our voices calling out to Him, and wants to hear our needs, even though, as Christ explains, He already knows them. Our Father, who like an earthly father returning home at the end of a long day, is gladdened to be greeted with joy by his children. Our Father, who like an earthly father, expects us to do as He has asked us.

    So, in the Lord’s Prayer we offer our praise and our thanks, and promise to do His will, which in this season of Lent calls us especially to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As we go about making these offerings, let us also be mindful of how the Lord calls us to do these things. Immediately before today’s Gospel passage, Jesus tells us to “pray to your Father in secret,” rather than putting on a great show for other people. He tells us when fasting to try not to appear to be fasting. God knows of our offering, and He is the only one who needs to know. We are fasting for Him.

    In our almsgiving, in our love for the neighbor, we seek to fulfill God’s will by obeying the Greatest Commandment, and in the Lord’s Prayer we promise to fulfill His will “on earth as it is in heaven.” Exactly how do we do that?

    The primary founder of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, gives us this answer, writing that “Our Lord makes us ask in His prayer that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Not as it is in Hell, where it is done of necessity, nor among men, where it is often done with murmuring, but as it is in Heaven, with the love and the joy of angels.”

    The Lord loves a cheerful giver, and so during this Lenten Season, let us offer to Our Father our prayer, our fasting and our alms with the joy of angels!

    Timothy P. Williams is Director of Formation at National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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