Many of our prayers are offered up through Christ (think of our prayers at Mass which the priest ends by saying “…we ask this through Christ our Lord…Amen.”) This may seem like a small thing, and it is easy to miss, simply because we hear it all the time. But the reality is that this line is quite important, and should always serve as a reminder of the way in which we pray.
To prayer through Christ seems like a strange way of saying something, at least on the surface. Are we praying to God, and through God? In an important way, yes, although that seems confusing enough that we should look at the details a bit more.
Today’s Gospel shows us just how confusing this can be. We often call Jesus the Good Shepherd, but today we hear, in His own words, that He is the gate the sheep must go through (John 10:7). This is, of course, not to say that Jesus Christ is only this passage, but that this passage is an integral part, a necessary part of becoming one with God. Because we know that Jesus is God, just as the Father and Holy Spirit also are, we are getting closer to the reason why we must pass through Christ. In John’s Gospel, we hear two other things which are very important to making this less confusing:
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.
It is because of God’s love that Jesus Christ came to be one of us, to live and die and rise again. This was God’s plan to restore our broken relationship, something that God would have to do, because it is beyond anything we could do to heal our own brokenness.
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Jesus Christ not only shows us the way back to God, He is the way back. It is through our relationship with Him as a man that our relationship with Him as God can be restored. In this way, it is through Christ’s own life that we are restored to grace and brought back to relationship with God.
Maybe a good way to remember all of this would be to think of the meaning when we hear those words at the end of a prayer, “…we ask this through Christ, our Lord,” and remember that it isn’t just a fancy ending. It will always be our way of acknowledging to God that we understand what was done for us, Christ’s own life lived and sacrificed for us, so that we would have the opportunity to have a relationship with God. May it also serve to remind us of this fact every time we pray: our privilege to know God and speak with Him in any way is always through Christ, our Lord.