Saturday, July 24, 2010

Homily for 17th Sunday in O.T. July 25, 2010

Monica was a devout Christian who raised her family in the faith and persisted in prayer. Many times her prayers were for her children; that they would persevere in their faith life. Monica had a son who became quite the playboy. As early as 17, as he left for college, her son became heavily involved in drunkenness, a wild lifestyle and he even had a mistress. Yet Monica persisted in prayers for the young man; for 17 years uninterrupted she prayed for his return to the faith. Her prayers were answered as her son returned home, renounced his former way of living and became a Priest, a doctor of the Church and a great Saint. You see Monica is St. Monica and her son is St. Augustine.  We will celebrate their feast days next month!

Persisting in prayer works. Even when we don’t think God hears us or answers our prayers; persistence pays off. Many of us here this morning can probably relate to St. Monica and maybe St. Augustine too. Perhaps there is a prayer intention that comes to mind right now that has required your persistence.

As people of faith, we need to ask the Lord to teach us how to pray and to be persistent in our prayer life!

St. Luke’s Gospel today focuses on prayer. Responding to a request to teach us to pray, Jesus replies with the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus first teaches us to call God our Father. Jesus teaches us to be in relationship with our Father, to be His children and to recognize that our Father will supply our needs. But we are also called to understand that God will answer our prayer not simply with what we want but with what we truly need.

The Our Father is taught by Jesus because it is orderly. Before anything else, we acknowledge God and give Him glory and reverence. The prayer covers all of life; our present need in our daily bread; our past life filled with our sins and the forgiveness that comes from our Father and our future trials as we ask for assistance with temptation.

The Our Father is taught to us by Jesus because He desires us to pray this prayer in this life and before the Father in Heaven in the life to come.

And Jesus teaches the disciples a lesson in persistence. He gives us the story of the neighbor who goes next door asking for bread at midnight. We all know what would happen these days if we would go knocking at the neighbor’s door at midnight! The point of this teaching is not simply to persist in prayer nor is it about our ability to bargain, compel or negotiate with God. This would imply an unwilling God or a father not wanting to give good gifts to his children. Jesus uses a parable here to draw a contrast. Many times that is what a parable is; a lesson in contrast. And the contrast presented by Jesus is this; if a reluctant neighbor will eventually give his friend what he needs, because of persistence, how much more will our loving Father give us, His children, what we truly need because he loves us?

For us gathered here today, we come together in a spirit of worship and prayer. Our intensity in prayer, our persistence is to take this spirit of worship and prayer out of this church and to our world and the week ahead.  Just this week, at World Youth Day, Pope Francis implored us to not just knock on the door, but walk out of the door and bring Jesus and a life of faith to the street; to our neighbors, friends and family.

  As Jesus gives us the Our Father, we can make that prayer more meaningful this week by making the prayer part of our daily routine. We can start and end our day with a sincere recitation of the Our Father while focusing on the words we hear about this prayer from today’s Gospel. Reading and praying with these first 13 verses of Luke chapter 11 would be a good way to reflect on our prayer life.  Can we reflect this week if our prayer life helps to facilitate a deeper, more personal relationship with our Father?

In our prayer life this week focus on the difference between searching and finding. Is our focus so specific that we are asking God to help us find what we want or can we search more deeply asking God to show us what we need in this life and the life to come?

And finally can we focus this week on that one person in our life that may be far from God now, be it a family member, a friend or a co-worker? Can we persist in our prayer for that person like St. Monica did for her son St. Augustine?

Lord teach us how to pray.

Lord we ask because from you we wish to receive…
Lord we seek because it is you we wish to find…
Lord we knock because it is your door we wish to be opened for us…

St. Monica and St. Augustine pray for us!

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