This week we Lectio the Liturgy with the Prayer after Communion for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Complete within us, O Lord, we pray, the healing work of your mercy and graciously perfect and sustain us, so that in all things we may please you. Through Christ our Lord.
When we hear the word healing come up in a conversation, we may be quick to look around to see who is sick. However, in this prayer, which asks God to complete the healing work of his mercy, His healing is intended for all of us.
We do pray for those who are ill, but do we consider our own need for healing? It’s a tale as old as time, as Paul writes in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” This division between our flesh and our spirit is created by sin. We have a Sacrament for that, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is called a Sacrament of Healing.
There are other areas of our lives that need healing as well. We can experience woundedness not only from our own sins, but also from the sins of others. These wounds often run deep and they rob us of the joy that God desires for us.
We know that in physical healing, God takes the pain away but what about the pain in the spiritual and emotional wounds? Sometimes we have to cut off old habits, other times God needs to open an old wound so he can heal it, however, the pain is short-lived when it is covered by the healing balm of God’s mercy.
Not only do we ask God to complete the healing in all the aspects of our life, we ask him to perfect and sustain us, so that through it all we may please Him.
As I meditated on this prayer, I came to love the verb complete. When it’s finished being a verb, it is an adjective. As a verb, we ask God to complete, or finish, our healing, and when He does, we are completely healed, we are made whole.
Next, we ask God to perfect us. In the Latin form of the prayer, we find the word perfice which means to accomplish, to bring to completion, or complete (there’s that word again!).
As the process of healing takes place, our strengthening and spiritual growth continues and we ask God to sustain us. In the Latin form the prayer, for the word sustain, we find foveri, which means to cherish or nurture.
I love those words, accomplish and cherish. As I meditated on those words, I had a sense that God deeply desires our healing. He wants to bring it to completion and nurture us. He wants us to become the creatures He made me to be. The word cherish gives a sense of how gentle He is, how deep his tender love is for us.
The healing and cherishing we experience is the work of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the gentle way that the Holy Spirit works in us, and yet in the tender way he brings healing, the Holy Spirit is also the giver of life.
I’ve heard it said that most perfect praise we can give to God is to become the person He created us to be. When we ask Him for healing and we ask him to sustain us, I know that He is very well pleased.
Thanks for praying with m