Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prayers To Fit All Believers

In 1962, the Catholic Good Friday Prayer included these thoughts: "…for the faithless Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts ... (and) for the blindness of that people, that they may be delivered from their darkness." After Vatican II in 1970, the prayer was changed to: "Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant ... (and) may arrive at the fullness of redemption." This year, it’s reported that Pope Benedict has revised the prayer again to ask God to "enlighten" the hearts of the Jews so "…they may acknowledge Jesus Christ as the savior” of all mankind.

The next chapter in this “saga” finds conservative rabbis expressing “dismay” over the Catholic prayer asking God to help Jews “…acknowledge Jesus Christ as the savior.” But that prayer could help all believers, by serving as an example of other needed prayers.

While Catholics ask God to help Jews recognize Jesus as the world’s Savior, Muslims, following Muhammad’s teachings, could be praying for Christians to acknowledge Jesus as nothing less — nor more — than the Promised Savior, instead of the second member of a trinity of gods. And if Christians stopped calling Jesus “God,” Jews could become more able to recognize him as the world’s Savior.

While all this praying for others is going on, Jews could be praying for Muslims to obey Muhammad, who told them to believe all the Prophets who preceded him — and he especially mentioned Moses. But Moses told the world that someday God would restore Israel and return the Hebrews to their homeland. So, why are supposedly devout Muslims trying to destroy the fulfillment of that prophecy?

In short, if all Jews, Christians and Muslims engaged themselves in such prayers, we would have a world of people praying for each other instead of a blood soaked earth!

Then again, perhaps each religious family could try praying for their own enlightenment! So, Jews could ask to be enlightened about the Messiah’s identity. Christians could ask to be enlightened about the real identity of the One and Only Lord God. And Muslims could ask to be enlightened about their own role as the third monotheistic religion that came to correct — not eradicate — their fellow believers.

By helping themselves enlarge their own religious understanding, believers would be helping all of their fellowmen enjoy “peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” which is one thing God has always told all “peoples of the earth” to pursue!