God’s Grammar

My friend Lyzii wrote reflections on the lectionary readings for Mary, Mother of God, and my response to her post wound up much longer than the average LJ comment. She, too, found the language of Aaron’s blessing a little odd, and wondered why Christmas is an octave.

I’ve had similar thoughts about biblical language and modern English grammar. The blessing from Numbers does sound a little awkward. When the celebrant says, “the Lord be with you,” at Mass, it has the same odd ring to it. I once read a good explanation of why there is no “may,” but of course I have no idea where.

There are other instances of odd biblical grammar that make more sense, though. When God says in Genesis, “Let us make man in our image,” it reveals the eternal nature of the Holy Trinity. When Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (end of John 8) it reminds us of His eternal existence as well.

The third thing I’m reminded of is the language of prayer. Jesus taught us to pray, “give us this day our daily bread.” There’s no “please.” It seems just a tad rude and presumptuous at first, but as Jimmy Akin mentioned once in his blog, in the original languages, you don’t say please. You just state or ask. It’s like writing a sophisticated persuasive statement: you don’t say “I think X,” you just say, “X is;” we know it’s what you think.

I’ve also heard we have octaves for the greatest feasts of the Church because one week won’t do; you need a whole extra day. The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God was traditionally the Solemnity of the Circumcision, and remains so in the Eastern Rite. Jewish circumcisions are supposed to happen eight days after birth. Easter’s an octave, too, though, so maybe octaves exist for both reasons.



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Today at Mass I’m pretty sure that the priest said “May the Lord be with you.” I try to listen but I can’t always tell if the priest did or did not say “May” before “The Lord be with you.”

The Genesis and John ones make more sense to me, but I suppose we’ll understand or moreso accept the awkwardness in time, whenever God grants us that insight.

I’d never thought about the language of prayer before as with that part of the Our Father. When I say it, I seem to think there’s an implied “please” with it, so it never really bothered me either.

Anyways thanks for linking me to this :) I’ve been getting so behind on checking non-LJ blogs over the past six months or so.

Hope all is well!

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