This week, we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
O God, who teach us that you abide in hearts that are just and true, grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to you. 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.
I remember a rule in math that helps you solve the equation by crossing off equal numbers from each side of the equals sign. This is a very simple explanation of the mathematical rule, I think it was called rearranging equations. Rearranging equations what I did with this prayer.
In the first side of the equation we find the “who” phrase of the prayer, “who teach us that you abide in hearts that are just and true.” The word “teach” is found in the Latin form of the prayer as asseris. Interestingly, this translation of teach is defined as to plant. I confess I had to think on that for a while, but then it made sense.
Do you remember a teacher in your life who, one day, said something that created a spark inside you? Perhaps it was in math or history, but there was a seed that was planted inside you that took root, grew, and bore fruit. Now just imagine that the spark, or the seed, inside you is God.
When that spark that is God takes root in our hearts, He abides there. When it comes to the spiritual life, often our first definition of the heart is that it is the seat of affection. The heart can be also thought of as our will and as such, our heart could be considered an altar, where pray and where we choose to sacrifice our will to His.
Scripture tells us that the state of our heart is a matter of life and death. “With all vigilance guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life.” (Prov 4:23 NABRE) We also learn in John 13:2 that it is in the heart where the devil brings temptation. We hear “By the time the supper took place, the Devil had already put the idea into the heart of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.” (ESV)
On the other side of the equation in the prayer, find a phrase equal to “abide in our hearts.” It is “a dwelling pleasing to you.” The dwelling is our heart, which by the presence of Jesus is made just and true, a dwelling deemed worthy of God.
When we cross off those two phrases out of the prayer, we are left with our petition of the prayer, that we be fashioned by His grace. In the prayer, the word fashioned is translated from the Latin word exsistere, which means to exist.
In this prayer, we ask God to make us so deeply rely on him, that we exist solely on His grace. What might that look like?
You woke up. Grace.
You put on clothes. Grace.
You had coffee. Grace.
What if something unexpected or hard comes? “Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” (Hebrews 4:16 NABRE)
When we learn that all we have is grace, our heart has no choice but to be filled with joy because God dwells in us.
Thanks for praying with me,