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September 1992

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling. (1 Tim. 2:8)

These words are taken from the first letter sent by Paul to his disciple Timothy. They are part of a series of suggestions aimed at ordering the prayer life of the Christian community organised by his disciple.

The first letter to Timothy comes from the last years of Paul's life, and so they reflect a situation in the Church that is already fairly well developed. The Christian message had already spread to the various countries surrounding the Mediterranean. The basics of the Christian life and faith, given previously by Paul, had already been consolidated, and so the time had come to think about how to formulate doctrine and organisation. It is in this context and with this in mind that the present verse must be read.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling.

In the Christian assemblies, right from the beginning, community prayer had had the first place. It is easy to understand the reason why: Jesus had promised that he would be present where two or three were met together in his name and that any prayer would be answered if his disciples, meeting together like that, would offer it to the Father in his name. (Matt. 18:20.)

When the Christian community prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus, therefore, its members felt sure that they would receive all they asked from him.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling.

But for the community's prayer to be so powerful, it is necessary for its members to be truly met together in the name of Jesus. That is, it is necessary for them to be united in the desire to live his Word, and in particular the commandment to love one another. The holy hands lifted 'without anger or quarrelling' refer precisely to this condition asked by Jesus: purity of heart, the absence of egoism, above all a love for the others which is made up of forgiveness, the overcoming of rivalry, dislike, division - all the barriers and everything that is opposed to the unity he wanted.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling.

How, in this case, shall we live the Word of Life for this month?

We can rediscover the richness of our Christian assemblies, giving them value by a more faithful and attentive participation in them, thinking about the enormous gift Jesus makes to us of his presence whenever we gather together in his name. Furthermore, we know how this presence of Jesus reaches its peak in the celebration of the Eucharist, during which he gives himself really, personally, to each one of us, so that, in union with him, we too can give ourselves to the Father and to our brothers and sisters.

This then is how we can join in our Eucharistic assemblies, ready to leave behind our individualism and isolation, and opening ourselves to others, being ready to get to know each other better, caring for the needs, the pains, the worries of one another. Above all let's try to help each other to live the Word of Jesus, in particular his new commandment of mutual love, so that we can have the wonderful effects of his presence among us.

We will find, in fact, not only a deeper union of our soul with God, but the spreading of his kingdom around us, and the fire of love, which Jesus brought on earth, without doubt will set light, maybe slowly but surely, to the great blaze we all long for.

Chiara Lubich

 

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