This week we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Almighty and merciful God, graciously keep from us all adversity, so that, unhindered in mind and body alike, we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are yours. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
There are three key words in the prayer this week: adversity, unhindered, and freedom.
Adversity is defined as resistance or opposition. When we think about adversity, what may come to mind are the road blocks that get in the way. Someone else’s plans or ideas stop us from completing a task or activity how and when we want to perform it. However, the adversity in the prayer does something else. It keeps us from being free.
The adversities we ask God to keep from us are the ones that hold us bound to our sin or our wounds and are the things that prevent us from choosing God. In 1Peter 5:8, we read that our adversary is the devil, so it’s no wonder that the opposition is hard sometimes!
Note that we are not asking God to keep us from adversity, but to keep adversity from us. God is our protection and our shield.
The result of being kept from adversity is that we are now unhindered.
To be unhindered is to be free. Another definition is in order. Humans like order, so does God. In the beginning, in the story of creation, God shows us how he likes order. The book of Letivicus tells us how much God likes order in our worship of Him. Our liturgical seasons bring order to our spiritual life.
In God’s order, we find freedom for. What do I mean by that? People often look for freedom from. The Israelites wanted freedom from slavery, but God wanted to give them freedom for something, the freedom to become his people. It took them a while, and even after many generations, some of the people couldn’t leave behind the slavery of their ancestors. Why? In their heart, they couldn’t let go of their freedom from slavery mentality.
The Israelites did have adversities. However, the tests they went through came to help them leave slavery behind and to show them that they needed to put their trust in God.
The ability to pursue God in freedom of heart is the heart of the prayer. It is the dependent phrase. Our freedom depends on God keeping adversity from us. To do that, we need to learn to trust that each trial that still may come is there to help us grow in our freedom for, or our freedom to choose Him.
Lectio the Liturgy: Are you ready to trust God with the adversities that may come your way? If God took every trial and test away, would you use your freedom to choose him? Perhaps our first decision in using freedom for should be to choose God.