Every time we pray the Lord's Prayer, we say, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." The first half of this prayer is directed toward the Second Coming of Jesus. The second half involves our asking our Father for his kingdom to reign right now, on earth, and his will to be done here as fully as it is done in heaven. Every Advent, these prayers take on a greater importance as the church invites us to prepare both for Christmas and for Jesus' triumphant return to earth.
As we look forward to Christmas, we may be tempted to ask, "Is it possible? Can God's will really reign on the earth before Jesus comes again?" In one way, God's will certainly does reign. After all, whatever God wants, or allows to happen, will happen. But more to the point, Jesus gave us these words — "on earth as it is in heaven" — to pray so that we will aim to have his will done in our lives.
When the saints prayed this prayer, I believe they were living it out as well — in many ways doing God's will on earth as it is in heaven. They enjoyed God's peace, and they felt his love. God's kingdom was present in them because they lived in the light of his presence. They clearly experienced heaven on earth — and so can we!
We have to believe that Jesus will never give us anything we can't handle. When he gave us the Lord's Prayer, he also knew that we had been given God's power to help us do his will on earth. He knew that we had been given God's love so that we could participate in his kingdom, even as we lived on the earth. In fact, Jesus himself was God's instrument that made all of this possible. The true miracle of Christmas is God's loving plan to usher in a new kingdom and draw us closer to him.
Open Your Eyes. When Jesus was born, all of heaven cried out, "Glory to God in the highest" (Luke 2:14). The angels rejoiced that "the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world" (John 1:9). During the Advent Season, we want to remember why Jesus came among us two thousand years ago as well as what he has made possible for us. We want to ask Jesus to open our spiritual eyes so that we will see how much he loves us. We want to ask Jesus to let his love shine in us so that we will fall in love with him and love those around us a little bit more.
The greatest gift we can give to Jesus this Christmas is an open and pliable heart. God wants to do a great work in us and in our Church, but this will happen only as we let him into our lives and try our best to do his will as it is done in heaven.
Joe Difato is the publisher of The Word Among Us, a monthly devotional magazine. This article is from his introduction to the Advent 2007 issue. Used with permission.
A Special Note: Based on the many testimonials I receive, I know that many of you have been blessed through the Catholic Man Channel and the support and resources provided by the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (NFCM). More than ever, we need your prayers and financial support. If you believe in the vision of the NFCM, "Catholic Men, Linked as Brothers in Jesus Christ, and Called to Bring Him to Others" and have been blessed by the Catholic Man Channel and our other resources, please consider financially partnering with the NFCM as part of your end of year giving. It is only through the support of men like you that we have been able to touch the lives of tens of thousands of Catholic men. Let's continue to stand shoulder to shoulder to reach other Catholic men for Jesus Christ and bring the light of the Incarnate Christ and his Gospel to a darkened world this Advent and Christmas season. To make a tax-deductible contribution to the NFCM and support our vision and outreach to Catholic men, just click here.
Maurice Blumberg, Executive Director, National Fellowship of Catholic Men
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- 1. "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Do you believe it is possible to experience God's kingdom "on earth, as it is in heaven." Why or why not?
- 2. "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." What does it mean to live out this prayer? How are you doing? What steps can you take to better live out it out as a Catholic man?
- 3. How would you answer these two questions that are posed in the article: "Why did Jesus come among us two thousand years ago and what has he made possible for us?"
- 4. The Advent and Christmas Season is a time of giving gifts. What gift would you like to give to Jesus? What gift would you like Jesus to give to you this Christmas?
- 5. The Advent and Christmas season are also a time to see more clearly, and experience more deeply, the love of Jesus and the love of our Heavenly Father. Have you been able to do this? Why or why not? It is not too late to rise above all the busyness and distractions of the season to spend more time in prayer and worship? What steps can you take to do this?