Passion and Prayer

10.11.18  Thurs. wk 27 O.T. (II)

Galatians  3: 1 – 5

Luke 11: 5 – 13

†Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’  I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.

And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?  Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?  If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit* to those who ask him?”        The Gospel of the Lord.

Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                            Passion and Prayer

Earlier this week, we heard the Gospel story of Martha and Mary – when †Jesus came into their home.  Of course, Mary sat at the feet of †Jesus and Martha was in the kitchen banging pots and pans out of anger.  And we reflected on the true nature of hospitality: being sensitive to the needs of others.   And Martha did not understand what †Jesus wanted.  He wanted her to sit at His feet with Mary so He could talk to them because He was on His way to Jerusalem.

In Biblical times, the rule of hospitality was paramount, it was very important in the Jewish culture.  It required the cooperation of the entire community in which one lived – especially when someone was entertaining an unexpected guest.  Everybody seemed to pitch in – to help that family whose unexpected guest showed up.  Whether the guest was hungry or not – a meal would always be served; so in that sense, Martha was doing what the culture expected – but she was not doing what †Jesus wanted her to do.

In a small village – it would be easy to know who had fresh bread that day – everybody knew everybody else’s business back then.  Bread was necessary for a meal because oftentimes what they did was to have bowls of different types of food and sauces and you would dip the bread in the bowl.  So you needed bread for a meal.  They didn’t use spoons and other utensils – so bread was actually essential for a meal.   So asking for bread from a neighbor was common, and the request was generally always honored.  To refuse to show hospitality brought great shame and dishonor upon you and your family if you said: “NO”.  So †Jesus told this parable to make an important lesson about prayer.  If a neighbor can be coerced to give bread in the middle of the night – how much more hospitable will God be toward us – when we pray to Him.  The Lord is never out-done in generosity  – regardless of the circumstances  – the Lord will always give us what is necessary for us – what we need.

St. Augustine once wrote: “God, who does not sleep – awakens us from sleep that we may ask and He can give much more graciously.”  God wants to give us things.  He wants to give us the good things we need.  He is not stingy.  He doesn’t punish us by saying: “You did that bad thing – so – forget about asking for things from me for awhile.”  It’s not going to happen.    That’s not God at all!  He wants to give us things.  And †Jesus tells us that God is always ready to answer those who seek Him – who call upon Him with TRUST in His mercy and His kindness.

“Ask ad you shall receive – seek and you shall find – knock and it will be opened to you”; †Jesus meant what He said.  Our heavenly Father waits upon us – always ready to hear our prayers – always ready to respond to our plea – to give us what we need.  When you pray: Do you ask God with an expectant faith?  Or do you ask God with a sense of entitlement?”  (‘I deserve this Lord, so please give it to me’.)  Do you trust in His goodness – to give you what you really need – not always what you want.  And do you persist in your prayer or do you give up when your prayer is not immediately answered?

†Jesus gives us an example of passionate prayer in the parable – which speaks of the intensity of our prayer.  Prayer that comes from the heart – and the heart is the seat of human passion.  Do I really want this?  That’s where we really desire things – in the heart.  Our prayer must not be casual – it must be full of passion from the heart.  “Ask and you shall receive – seek and you shall find – knock and it will be opened to you”.   Keep knocking!  Keep seeking!  Keep asking!   Because if this is truly what you want then the Lord will give it to you.   Passionate prayer is a sign that my prayer is very important to me – but we always pray in the knowledge that God will never give me – what will harm me.  He will only give me the things that will help me – and maybe – what I am asking for will not help me right now.  Then the Lord says: “Not yet – maybe later on – but not yet”.  We have to accept that.

If this passion and the Will of God are at the heart of your prayer – then: “When you ask – you will receive – when you seek – you find – and when you knock – you will be admitted”. (Matt 7:7)

      In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.