November 4, 2014

Homilies on the "Lord's Prayer", Also Known as the "Our Father" (2 of 9)

"Your Name Be Hallowed"

After calling upon God our Father Who is in the heavens in the opening of the Lord's Prayer, we understand that He is holy by nature, so now we come to the first request: that the name of God be holy. We thus say: "Your name be hallowed".

The name of God is the energy of God. From our Orthodox theology we know that God has essence and energy. Even created things have essence and energy, such as the sun which is a celestial body that emits light and burning fire, thus it emits energy, namely light and heat. But God, Who is uncreated, has an uncreated nature and uncreated energy, and by nature God is both nameless and above being named, but according to His energies He has many names.

Whenever God revealed Himself to people He would show one of His energies, such as love, peace, justice, philanthropy. In this way He has communion with people. This is why we say the names of God are His energies. And every time someone mentions the name of God with devotion, humility, repentance, faith, etc., they receive the knowledge and sense of the energy of God.

When we pray "Your name be hallowed", it does not mean that God's name is not holy and we must pray for it to become hallowed, but this request has two meanings.

The first meaning of "hallowed" is "glorified". Thus it means also "Your name be glorified", that it be glorified by our life. Just as the name of God can be blasphemed by our lives, when it does not correspond to our noble origins, so also is the name of God glorified when we observe the will of God and live according to His commandments.

The second meaning of the request "Your name be hallowed" is not unrelated or independent from the previous one. We are also requesting that God "make us saints", so that God will be glorified through our holy lives.

This request shows the purpose of man and the reason we are alive. Our purpose is that we be united with God and to become holy by the Grace and energy of God. God is holy by nature and people must become holy by Grace. In the language of the Fathers of the Church this is called theosis or deification, and whoever is sanctified by sharing in the Grace of God, they are called deified. For one to become a saint, or deified, it means all their mental and physical powers are transfigured, and the center of our life is God.

Unfortunately many Christians who pray this prayer do not have such lofty goals, but they include within their Christian life and disposition some good ways of behavior, some mores and customs and religious traditions, praying for earthly things. But this is far from enough. We often find within Holy Scripture the exhortation: "Be holy for I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:16). There are some people who try to justify themselves, saying: "The life of holiness is not for me", or "I want to live the joys of this life and not be deprived of what this temporary life offers, or "I'm not a saint that I can't be angry", etc.

Because our lives do not correspond with this request and we do not struggle to live according to the will of God, this is why our conduct is anti-christian. We are full of passions and evils, hatreds and animosities, and we commit injustices and slanders. And this is why when other people see us they do not believe in God, and so we become the cause of the nations blaspheming the name of God.

Usually when we pray to God we ask for Him to give us health, prosperity, material possessions, etc. And we should do this. But above all we must pray that God will sanctify us. But we must know that this is not independent of our will. This is why together with our prayer we must offer our freedom, thereby glorifying the name of God in the world.