March 2018  
Bible Search



“LEX ORANDI, LEX CREDENTI!”  This is an ancient saying: “The law of prayer is the law of belief!”  It means that the way we pray is a very good indicator of what we believe.  Our prayer forms our belief.  It is something like if you want to know how a guy will treat his future wife, watch how he treats his mother and sisters.


But just as you can’t always tell the difference between affectionate teasing and disrespect, we may all say the same words in our prayer and have entirely different meanings behind them.  Today’s Gospel contains one of those statements by Jesus than can be and is  interpreted in many ways.


“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”


Some interpretations suggests that Jesus’ mission was to atone to God for human sin by dying a painful death.  That point of view believes that in justice that God had to exact a fitting punishment for sin and that in mercy God sent His Son as the only one who could adequately pay the price.  This allows people to see God as both just and merciful.


However, there is another message in our readings today.  Our readings present an image of God who is relentless in reaching out to lost humanity.  Our first reading from Chronicles summarizes salvation history: The people sin and God tries in every possible way to save them.  The Old Testament is full of God’s efforts to bring people back to Him.


In our Gospel, Jesus says, “So must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.”


Instead of compensating God for human sin, Jesus reveals God giving himself to humanity as He gives His Son not to condemn but to save.  No matter what we do to reject that love, God continually offers us eternal life.  All we have to do is accept it.


St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians expounds on this expression of God’s great love and mercy.  Paul calls it the grace of being joined to Christ and destined for eternal union with Him.


Lex Orandi, Lex Credenti!  The way we pray indicates what we believe.  We can and need to add one more phrase: Lex Vivendi….The way we live.  Our beliefs expressed in our prayers must be visible in the way we live.  As we pray and believe, so shall we live.


So “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” is not so much about atonement for the evil of sin but more about the great mercy and love of our God.


How does our prayer form our belief?  What image of God is in our heart when we hear that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son?  And most importantly, hos is our prayer and our image of God reflected in our daily lives?


Fr. Carroll Mizicko, OFM

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