Thursday, September 12, 2019

Understanding the Lord’s Prayer (2): Who art in heaven

When we choose to call God our Father and add, “Who art in heaven,” we acknowledge that God’s homeland is in heaven. What does this imply for us? That being His Children, we too see our homeland in heaven.

Saint Theophylact says,
By saying  “in the heavens” He has revealed to you your fatherland and your paternal home. For if you desire to have God as your father, then look toward heaven and not toward earth. Theophylact on Matthew p 58
We now live on earth and it seems far removed from heaven. We may feel like our Father is a long way away. Honoring His abode in Heaven we must have a great desire to be united with Him. Our aim becomes having a place in Heaven. Wanting to be good children of His, we want to do what is necessary to be worthy of a life in His homeland.

Saint Cassian says,
We sojourn on this earth as on a journey and are kept at a far distance from our Father, we may instead hasten with great desire to that region in which we say that our Father dwells and do nothing that would make us unworthy of this profession of ours and of the nobility of so great an adoption... Cassian 9th Conference p341
This prayer reminds us where we as humans have fallen from. When God created man and women they were in Paradise, But, unable to follow his direction, they were cast out to toil and suffer a mortal life on earth. We also know that we were created in His image and likeness and belong with Him there. We have no choice when we choose to recite this prayer to commit ourselves to a way of life that is like heaven.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa writes,
They remind us of the homeland from which we have fallen and of the noble status from which we have been exiled... by directing you to address God as your own Father in prayer, commands nothing less than that you become like the heavenly.
References: Saint Cyril of Alexandria’s Homilies on the Lord’s Prayer, Saint Theophylact’s commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Saint Gregory of Nyssa discourse on the Lord’s Prayer.

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