Prayer Orients Us to God
Saint Paul tells us 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing. In Romans 12:12 and Colossians 4:12, Saint Paul tells us again to persevere in prayer. And in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us to pray without becoming weary.
Whenever I hear these scriptures I think back to one of the first “spiritual” books I read — The Way of a Pilgrim by anonymous. In this book, the pilgrim walks across Russia with a book and some prayer beads, visiting holy places and attempting to understand Saint Paul’s words to pray without ceasing. On his lips, he recites “the Jesus prayer”:
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Like the narrator of the book, I too, was an ignorant pilgrim seeking wisdom. My faith could not have been weaker. The darkness in my life could not have been more consuming. Unlike the pilgrim, I was not going to give up all to search for answers, nor was I inclined to acknowledge myself a sinner, so why would I ask for mercy?
I was willing, however, to read a book and journey in my mind across Russia with the main character. Little did I know that even by making such a miniscule gesture, which was nothing less than a choice to orient myself toward God, I would begin to set out on a journey, the journey to everlasting life.
Sunday Gospel: Luke 18:1–8
Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, “There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.’”
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Two Minute Homily
The parable of the persistent widow often brings to mind the theme of justice. Justice is to give a man what is due him. For justice to prevail among men, we must start by giving God what is due him.
Justice for God
The first commandment tells us what we owe God: You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.
From the perspective of justice, it is easy to see why missing Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin and requires absolution in confession. We have not given God that which is his due. We owe him thanks and praise on a regular and consistent basis. In fact, we exist to give God glory. The Church provides that opportunity, not just on Sunday, but daily, so that our lives don’t spin out in chaos but rather remain in order.
Justice for Mankind
There is a trend among young people to get on the social justice bandwagon. Our quest for justice in America must begin with a quest to give God his due, first. When God is in his proper place in our life, we will give others their due as well.
The greatest injustice in our world today is to deny human beings the right to life. Contrary to the imaginations of seven Supreme Court justices, there is no constitutional right for a mother to kill the child in her womb. What the court’s decision did was simply decriminalize the role of “doctors” and make legal the human butcher shop. We should not be surprised that so many other injustices exist, when our culture misses the foundational reality of the sanctity of human life at its most vulnerable stages.
Questions of the Day
- Are you giving God his due?
- What is your life-orientation? What is the underlying rhythm of your days? Is it prayer? If not, what does drive your rising and your resting, your work and your play?
- When Jesus comes for you, will he find you engaged in works inspired by your faith in God and trust in him?
- Are you walking in the way of life everlasting?
Quote of the Day
The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them. They struggle, with all their strength, and they triumph, but not by their own efforts: the Lord triumphs in them and with them. — Pope Francis, homily for 10-16-2016
My Prayer Today for the Body of Christ on Earth
May our Faith lead us to pray. May our prayer orient us toward God and his will. With Jesus as Lord of our life, may justice prevail throughout the world. May our Hope help us persevere through life’s trials. May we welcome new life into the world and love and support pregnant women and their children. May we respect the role of fathers and never intentionally deny a child his or her right to both a father and a mother. May we live in Charity, so that when Jesus returns, he finds us doing the Father’s will and not our own.
- Pray Today’s 40 Days for Life Devotional (Day 19)
- Read Pope Francis’ homily on today’s Mass readings