FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
THE THEOLOGY OF BENDED KNEES
Feast of the Assumption
August 15, 2010
We come together often in worship and acknowledge that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. This has become a part of our „lifestyle.‰ But what we may not be in the habit of doing is going down on our knees before our Lord. This is not as it should be, for when God greatly exalted Jesus for what he accomplished on the cross for us, He expected „that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.‰ (Phil 2:10-11).
While standing in the presence of the Lord is all right, kneeling before him is even better. In the world we have gotten used to being with our peers, and when we are, we stand face-to-face, looking eye-to-eye, equals who are relating. That is not the kind of relationship we have with God. Though Jesus calls us friends, and indeed we can be intimate with him in such a friendship, what we often forget is that he is God who is owed awe and proper reverence. At times, we simply have to be on our knees before him, with heads bowed, not looking him in the eye, acknowledging with our posture that he indeed is Lord and we are his unworthy servants.
At many Eucharistic celebrations, the congregation does not kneel after the „Holy, Holy, Holy,‰ during the consecration, and after the „Lamb of God.‰ In fact, in one Mass I attended just two weeks ago in Detroit, a majority of the people sat down during the consecration! No, they were not very elderly or sickly. Some remained standing, some knelt, but about 2/3 sat down.
People do not sin if they do not kneel down. But they would do better if they did kneel.
How about our personal prayer time? Most I imagine are just seated. But it would be better if at some point in our prayer we would kneel. This is especially true for those who are called to be servant leaders. This would greatly manifest that they are leaders who are servants. Even Jesus, the Master, would have knelt before his disciples in order to wash their feet. Jesus then told them to follow the model he showed.
Kneeling before someone shows great reverence. A captain knelt before Elijah (2 Kgs 1:13), Balaam knelt before the angel (Num 22:31), Joseph‚s brothers knelt before him (Gen 42:6), King Ahasuerus‚ servants knelt before Haman (Est 3:2), Cornelius knelt before Peter (Acts 10:25). How much more should we kneel before God!
Our posture of bended knees says a lot about how we relate to God.
The father of the boy with a demon knelt before Jesus, asking him to have pity on and to heal his son (Mt 17:14). The leper knelt before Jesus, asking to be made clean (Mk 1:40). How many times in our prayer do we ask things from God, especially for healing, but without even showing the reverence of laying ourselves low before Him?
The rich man knelt before Jesus, looking to him for wisdom about his life, particularly about eternal life (Mk 10:17). How many times do we find ourselves searching for answers, looking for wisdom from above, recognizing ourselves as students before the great Teacher, but perhaps acting as though we are just having an intellectual discussion with one of our peers? Ezra, the great scribe (scholar, lawyer, teacher) used by God to restore Israel, knelt before God (Ezr 9:5).
Peter knelt before Jesus, asking him to depart from him because he was a sinful man (Lk 5:8). How many times do we ask God to forgive us for our sins, but do not take the humble posture of kneeling before Him? When we truly realize how our sins hurt God, and if we are truly repentant, we would fall down on our knees, or even prostrate ourselves, and confess our sins with weeping.
Peter knelt before God, prior to raising Tabitha back to life (Acts 9:40). How many times do we ask for miracles to happen in our lives, but fail to properly acknowledge God as the awesome Almighty who is omnipotent?
Paul knelt before God, before embarking on his mission (Acts 20:36, 21:5). How many times do we say a prayer before doing service or going on mission, but fail to really realize our profound and desperate need for the Lord‚s blessing, protection and empowerment?
Daniel knelt before God (Dn 6:11), praying and pleading before Him regarding the dire situation of God‚s people under foreign rule, especially as King Darius had decreed that no one was to address any petition to God except to himself. Today we face the unprecedented rise of secular humanism and liberalism. In some First World countries , public prayer and Christian symbols are already prohibited by law. In some Muslim nations, worship of the Christian God is prohibited, under pain of death as in the decree of Darius. How many times do we ask God to deliver us from such, but without the posture of a wretched and desperate person down on his knees?
Kings knelt before God, such as King Solomon (2 Chr 6:13), King Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 20:18) and King Hezekiah (2 Chr 29:29). And why not? They may be kings, but God is the King of kings!
Jesus himself knelt before the Father (Lk 22:41).
We kneel before God as an act of awe, of reverence, of total submission, of total dependence, of total trust. We kneel before God to acknowledge Him as our Creator, without whom we are nothing. „Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us.‰ (Ps 95:6).
We kneel before God to intercede for our families, that every member of the family might become a true child of God, that everyone would be worthy to carry the name of Christ. „For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named‰ (Eph 3:14-15).
We kneel before God to ask for His power and anointing over our work and our service. We do God‚s work, and so we need His power and anointing. But asking is not done in a mechanical or perfunctory way. Rather, deep reverence is due the God whose very work we are doing and whose very power we are set to assume. God Himself tells us: „To me every knee shall bend; by me every tongue shall swear, saying, ŒOnly in the Lord are just deeds and power.‚‰ (Is 45:23b-24).
We kneel before God in worship. This is a very apt posture of creatures before the Creator, of slaves before the Master, of subjects before their King, of disciples before the Lord. Only God stands out in the assembly, not because He is raised on a dais, but because His people have fallen on their knees. Indeed, for it is written: „As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.‰ (Rom 14:11).
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There is one more thing. Today is the Feast of the Assumption. Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. Mary went up to heaven without undergoing corruption in death. Jesus, the only Son of God, who conquered death by raising Jesus back to life, ascended into heaven. On the other hand, Mary was assumed into heaven. She ascended not by her own power, but she was brought by her own Son Jesus into heaven, where she now reigns as Queen.
Mary obviously is a very important person. Indeed, for she is not only, like all of us, a child of the Father, but she is the mother of the Son as well as the spouse of the Holy Spirit. She has a deep intimate personal relationship with each of the three Persons of the Trinity.
Now Mary is our Mother. She is our Mediatrix and intercessor before the throne room of God. She is co-Redemptrix to Jesus. She reigns as Queen of heaven and earth. We owe her great respect and reverence because of who she is and what she has done and continues to do for us.
Because Mary is so intimately involved in our work of evangelization and family renewal, we as CFC-FFL were fortunate to be consecrated to her in 2007. Then, and even now, we pray the „Prayer of Consecration to Mary.‰ Well and good.
We start the prayer with saying „We kneel before you ….‰ But I see that many of our brethren no longer do kneel. Some even change the words to „We come before you.‰ Have we lost our sense of reverence for such an important person in our life and mission? Are we beginning to take her for granted? Are we becoming more mechanical in our prayer?
Let the fervor of our love for our Blessed Mother Mary not wane but intensify even more, especially as we get to know her more and experience the power of her intercession. Let us continue to acknowledge her great role in salvation history. Let us continue to emulate her as our model of discipleship, of faith and trust, of servanthood, of joy in affliction.
Let us then pray: „We kneel before you ….‰
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