Prayers for a Lifetime
March 20, 2016
Two prayers from the cross—the only ones in Luke’s account. Think back to other years and we hear the astonishing prayer of abandonment: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (in Mk & Mt)
But this prayer of abandonment is NOT in Luke, who often gives us a different look at Jesus. How do we explain the differences in the two accounts? Remember, different accounts from different people—like how different reporters today would give differing accounts of the same event.
So—what are the 2 prayers from the Cross—in the Passion account we just heard?
1. Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. (23:34)
· Astonishing presence of mind, even in pain. Implies that Jesus already forgives. Shows strength of his bond with the Father.
· He understands how strongly he threatened the way of life of his fellow Jews, and the way of life of the Roman occupiers of Palestine. Implies strongly his compassion—understanding—love for the offenders
· Who was Jesus forgiving—who were the offenders? Those who wouldn’t hear him all along; those who condemned to death, both Roman and Jew; those who were the executioners.
· “Was he forgiving us all forever, for all our sins? This is the gospel.” [Feasting on the Word, p. 183, quoting H. Stephen Shoemaker]
2. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. (23:46)
· From Psalm 31—used at prayer in the evening: Now I lay me down to sleep. “These words may have been the bedtime prayer for Hebrew children and their parents. It is the prayer of ‘letting go.’” [Shoemaker, ibid.]
· We say this prayer in our Compline service at night.
· Touches our illusion of always being in control and in charge of our futures.
· It takes real humility to say it!
· Each day we can pray this—it is one of the most basic of prayers and one that reminds us who we are and whose we are: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
“Can you imagine 2 better prayers with which to live and die, especially when life has done its worst to us?” [Shoemaker, ibid.]