Saturday 12 March: Lent 2011

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You are encouraged to pray the prayer, pause, read the scripture, pause, read the reflection, and then pray the prayer again.

This prayer comes from Fursa (died 650), an Irish monk who did much to establish Christianity in East Anglia [more].

The Breastplate Prayer

May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder,
The coming of the Holy Spirit on this head,
The sign of Christ on this forehead,
The hearing of the Holy Spirit in these ears,
The smelling of the Holy Spirit in this nose.
The vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes,
The speech of the people of heaven in this mouth,
The work of the Church of God in these hands
The good of God and of neighbour in these feet.
May God dwell in this heart,
And this person belong entirely to God the Father.

‘May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder’

John 4:34-37

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.

Somewhere deep in the heart of every person is the longing for a sense of purpose. It is something primordial to our human nature to thirst for some feeling of greater significance. To be born and then die without leaving any mark somehow seems to fall short of what we were made for.

‘The Lord God placed Adam in the garden for him to work it’, says the book of Genesis.

The Hebrew word for work conveys the meaning of ‘something to accomplish or pursue’. The Lord God knew that to be happy the man needed something to achieve or to reach for. Every person since Adam has felt the same need.

Jesus once told his disciples: ‘It is my food and drink to do the will of my Father and to do it until I have completed it.’

It was his ‘food and drink’ he said: this was the source of his sense of godly purpose and fulfilment. The image of the yoke is a very relevant one. A yoke turns a mere animal into a man’s worker and partner. Thus harnessed, the beast, whether it knows it or not, has gained a purpose in life above and beyond the natural cycle of eating, sleeping and reproducing. When an animal has been yoked and put to work, the field will look different because of it. People will eat because of it. The animal will have made a difference: to its environment, to its master, to his family and community.

Like the ox that has been harnessed by a master, so the woman or man yoked with the Law of God can now offer their shoulder to a higher purpose and make a difference to their environment, and to the family and community.

What difference are you praying for?


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