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The Use of the Word “Lord”

Notes from the Pastor [78]

(Please note this is an archival post that is decades old.  Msgr. Awalt passed away a number of years ago.)

Lord is not Jesus’ first name as in Lord Jesus Christ, although we may inadvertently assume it is.  “Lord” is not who Jesus is but what He is.  It helps to keep this in mind in our prayers, especially at Mass and in the Liturgy.  The Holy Spirit moves us to prayer.  We pray to the Father and we pray in, with and through Jesus Christ.  It is good to keep that direction in mind.

For instance, in the Offertory prayer of the bread, we say, “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation.”  We are speaking to God, not to Jesus as such.  Usually when we invoke in our prayers, “the Lord,” we are referring to God.  Jesus is Lord, the Scripture tells us, meaning that Jesus who is man, in virtue of the Incarnation, is also God.  As a man, He prays for and with us and as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, He receives our prayers of  petition, thanks and adoration, etc.  Does this mean it is incorrect to pray directly to Jesus?  Of course not!  It is the fine distinction that every time the word “Lord” occurs in our liturgical prayers, “Lord” does not apply to Jesus, but is a prayer directed to the Triune God.  Making it absolutely clear, “the Lord” does not refer to Jesus’ identity, but to what He is– “Lord.”

Keep this in the back of your mind and you will be surprised at your awareness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Liturgy.  Obviously, when we use “Father” as in the Our Father or “Holy Spirit” we are directing our prayers to a person.  When we use “Lord” it is usually to the Godhead, not to Jesus individually.

Msgr. William J. Awalt