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What is God’s will on earth and in heaven?

Jesucristo Sumo y eterno sacerdote

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Philip Kosloski - published on 05/27/24

In the Lord's Prayer we pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." What exactly does that mean?

When praying the Our Father, there is a line about asking that God’s will be done. It may seem straightforward, but it has many layers of meaning.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains some of the meaning behind God’s will in its section on the Lord’s Prayer.

That all might be saved

Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”95 He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.” His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.

CCC 2822

Popular depictions of God in modern culture can make it seem that God is a tyrant who wants mindless slaves who serve him.

However, that is far from the truth. God is love itself and does not want any of his children to perish. He wants to gather all into his fold:

“He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ . . . to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will.” We ask insistently for this loving plan to be fully realized on earth as it is already in heaven.

CCC 2823

Jesus fulfills the Father’s will

In order to enact the Father’s will on earth as it is in heaven, Jesus came and gave his life for all:

In Christ, and through his human will, the will of the Father has been perfectly fulfilled once for all. Jesus said on entering into this world: “Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.” Only Jesus can say: “I always do what is pleasing to him.” In the prayer of his agony, he consents totally to this will: “not my will, but yours be done.” For this reason Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

CCC 2824

While through Christ the Father’s will is realized, it is still possible to reject the invitation to love God with our heart, mind and strength.

In praying the Our Father, we are also seeking to align our will with God’s will, letting ourselves be loved by him now and for all eternity.

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