A Letter from Fr. Paul - July 28, 2019
On Wednesday I go back to the doctor. I hope, after 10 weeks, that I will finally be cast free and able to put weight on my leg. That would mean I could begin therapy focused on walking again. I am ready!
Please remember to register for our two-hour retreat by Br. Silas starting at 9 am on Saturday, August 24th, in the church. You can register on our webpage or by calling the parish office.
Last week we talked about biblical hospitality and its relationship to the great commandment of love of God and neighbor. Before I look at this weekend’s Gospel, I want to point out that the great sin that brought disaster on Sodom and Gomorrah (our first reading) was that they intended to violate strangers, instead of offering hospitality, as Abraham offered in our reading last week. Our love of God shown through love of neighbor includes strangers, foreigners, those who are different from us, a Gospel value very relevant today.
Our Gospel this weekend deals with prayer. Jesus is off praying and, seeing His example, one of His disciples asks Jesus to teach them how to pray. Our good example (going to Mass each Sunday, praying before eating in a restaurant, etc.) can be exactly what God uses to bring someone closer to Him.
In response Jesus gives His disciples the Lord’s Prayer. In this prayer we honor God and ask for what we need, showing our dependence on Him. There is one important condition or caveat: we ask to be forgiven as we forgive. It is a dangerous line to pray, if we are not forgiving others!
Then Jesus emphasizes the importance of persistence in prayer, first through a story of a man who gets the food necessary for his mandatory hospitality to guests by pestering a neighbor until the neighbor gives in to get rid of him. Then we are told to “ask,” “seek,” and “knock,” each action being more forceful than the one before. We are assured that, just as an earthly parent gives a child what the child needs, our heavenly Father will do so for those of us who ask, who acknowledge our dependence on Him. Notice it doesn’t say we will get exactly whatever we ask for. Luke says we will get “the Holy Spirit.” Matthew says “good things.” The point is that when we are dependent on God, when we trust in His Providence, He will give us what is best for us.
I invite us to reflect this week on one or all of the themes I mentioned: the example we can give to others when we pray and attend Mass, our need to forgive if we want to be forgiven, and the need for trust in Divine Providence and persistence in prayer. All three remind us that, while God wants the best for us and will give us what is best for us, we have to play our part. In other words, we have to be open and cooperative. And let us support each other in prayer.
-- Paul James Portland, SDS
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