Gospel for Sunday the 28th of July 2019
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Luke 11: 1-13
After requesting of Jesus to teach them to pray, Our Lord teaches them the most perfect prayer, the Our Father. The Jesuit Walter Ciszek says that the ‘Our Father’ “encompasses in its short and simple phrases every relation between man and his Creator, between us and our loving, heavenly Father…….Truly the Lord’s prayer is the beginning and end of all prayers, the key to every other form of prayer”. Today, lets just take one line from the Our Father ‘give us each day our daily bread’. What does this line mean? Bread nourishes and strengthens the body so that we are more able to go about our day. But Jesus never stops at this world only, at the physical dimension. Jesus works at the level of the soul. So ‘give us this day our daily bread’ is a request for the bread that nourishes us at the level of our souls and makes us strong in the Lord. What is this bread?
The most perfect daily bread that the Father gives us is His own Son in the Eucharist, body blood, soul and divinity. God doesn’t want a distant relationship with us. God desires intimacy with us. The word intimacy- in-to-me see. In other words an intimate relationship goes far beyond the small talk and casual conversations. In an intimate relationship the two people open their hearts to each other, saying to each other ‘whether my heart is joyful or sorrowful, I open it to you and I give you my heart because I trust and I know the love you have for me is so much greater’. The Eucharist is the heart of Jesus given for us. When we receive the Eucharist, Jesus is giving us His very heart of perfect love. All He asks us is that we open our hearts to Him in return and allow His perfect love to embrace the ups and downs of our lives. St Therese of Liseaux on receiving the Eucharist for the first time says “No longer were we two: Therese had disappeared as the drop of water which loses itself in the depths of the ocean, Jesus alone remained”. In the Eucharist our souls are nourished by Jesus Himself.
Our souls are also nourished by the daily bread of prayer. At the beginning of our Gospel we are told that “Jesus was in a certain place praying”. It was seeing Jesus in prayer, lost in loving conversation with His heavenly Father that inspired the disciples to ask Jesus to teach them to prayer. Perhaps they had never known prayer to be like this. Perhaps the prayer of the disciples up to now had been a formula of words. But in Jesus they see Him immersed in the presence of the Father, praying with the heart. Is this something I aim for when I pray, to focus on God, opening my heart to Him? Focusing can be a battle as the mind wanders easily. Again, Walter Ciszek tells us not to worry because firstly God Himself has initiated the conversation and has placed within us the inspiration to set time aside and pray and secondly, He appreciates our efforts to pray and blesses it. In the mornings I sometimes fall asleep when I pray and I was complaining to a friend about my weakness about falling asleep before the Creator of the universe and he replied ‘when you kneel before Him, He is your Creator, when you fall asleep before Him, He is your Father’. Our daily bread of prayer, of intimacy with the Father, strengthens and nourishes our souls with His unconditional love for us.
We also find nourishment in the daily bread of God’s will. Do I wake up everyday with an idea of how the day is going to pan out? Do I get upset if things turn out differently? God works at the level of the soul and the most important thing is that we become like Him. God allows things to happen in our daily lives that will achieve this end. Our Gospel gives the example of a man who knocks on a friends door in the middle of the night looking for bread to feed his visitor. Its very inconvenient, and we could respond like the man and say ‘do not bother me…’. But the person of faith who is nourished by the Eucharist and prayer is given the eyes to see as God sees will see in this incident the opportunity God is giving us to grow like Him in His charity and patience. The circumstances of our day might not turn out as we expect, but they can become nourishment for our soul when we see them through the eyes of prayer.
– Fr. Jaimie Twohig SAC