My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
This has been an extraordinary week for the universal Church with our Holy Father Pope Francis in Brazil for World Youth Day. What a beautiful witness our Holy Father has given us. So today especially let us keep praying for our young people, attending World Youth Day, and the young people all over the world that they continue to grow in faith and love for Jesus and prepare themselves to become leaders in our Church and leaders in the new evangelization. It is important to all of us, to our company, as we join our Holy Father in praying for the fruits of this wonderful World event that happens in the life of the Church.
As I was saying before, our readings today from Sacred Scripture talk to us about the meaning of prayer. Prayer, of course, is our beautiful privilege as the children of God.
In the Gospel we just heard, we see Jesus spending time in prayer. It is interesting because we see that a lot in the Gospels. Often, we read about how Jesus is sitting at a short distance away from his Apostles, and he is deep in prayer. Jesus seems to have a habit of praying often, and interestingly enough, praying early in the morning before beginning his ministry and his work.
I think this should be an example for us, even for some of us who are not morning people, morning persons. It’s important to start our day in the presence of God. A reminder that we should all try to make time before our busy day gets started to spend a few moments talking with God in prayer.
But the main point of the Gospel today is not on when to pray, but how we should pray. The Apostles see Jesus praying and they ask him, Lord, teach us to pray.
And so Jesus answered them in a very simple way and he taught them the prayer that we all know, the “Our Father.”
For Jesus, prayer is not something very complicated. It is a conversation, a dialogue with God. Prayer is the act of a child. A child talking to his Father.
And even when are praying alone, we are praying Our Father — not My Father. So we are never really alone when we pray. We are joined to everyone else who believes that God is our Father. And even most importantly, we are joined to Jesus.
Because the “Our Father” is Jesus’ prayer. And in teaching it to us, Jesus allows us to enter into his own prayer. To join him in this prayer. What a beautiful reality — just stop and think that when we are praying the “Our Father,” we are praying with Jesus, with the apostles and with our Blessed Mother and with the whole universal Church. We are praying to God, our Father.
The saints tell us that the “Our Father” is the perfect prayer because it teaches us what to pray, what to pray for, and how to ask for these things.2
Jesus today is teaching us to pray for the things we need, as I said, it is a simple conversation. To pray for the difficulties that we have in our lives. For our daily bread. For forgiveness of our sins. And for the heart to forgive others. Daily, ordinary things that are necessary in our lives.
And in asking our Father for these things, we have and continue to have, kind of an open up a line of communication with him. It’s like sending a text or an email, or just having that kind of relationship in an instant way. Nowadays sometimes it’s easier to send a text than it is to talk to somebody, it’s interesting isn’t it? But in our relationship with God, that’s the way it is.
It’s always an easy way to rely on him, talk to him, listen to him, and have an on-going conversation. Sometimes, in our prayer, we are asking for help for ourselves or for others — for our family, for friends, and my dear brothers and sisters, that’s exactly what God is expecting from us.
That’s what we hear about, that interesting first reading of today’s Mass. Interesting conversation between God and Abraham. Abraham, our father in faith, makes a great prayer for the innocent people in the cities that have turned away from God. And he’s a little bit insistent, isn’t he? Abraham’s saying, what about fifty, forty, thirty? That prayer is the kind of prayer that we need in our relationship with God. Sometimes we expect God to respond to us immediately. Well, my dear brothers and sisters, God is expecting us to be as insistent as Abraham.
So let’s ask for the grace of finding a way to have that personal, intimate conversation, knowing that God is always listening to us.
Ask and you will receive.
Seek and you will find.
Knock and the door will be opened to you.
Personal promises, he’s talking to us, to each one of us. Today, once again, asking us to have that intimate dialogue with him, assuring us that he is listening to us and he will grant us what we ask him for if it is what we need in our personal life and in our spiritual life.
And we should never forget also, what St. Paul reminds us in the second reading of today’s Mass, the power of God who raised Jesus from the dead.
This is the God that we pray to, my dear brothers and sisters! The God of the Resurrection! The God who brought us to life in Baptism! He is our Father! All powerful!
So we should pray with an awareness that we are God’s children. And slowly, day by day, through praying with Jesus Christ and following him, we will become more like him. We will become more and more the image of Christ who is the perfect Son of God.
Besides praying for those things that we need, I think we all understand that it is important for us, in our conversation with God our Father, to ask him what is it that he wants from us. What does he want from me? What is his will for our lives? What is his will in each moment of every day.
Today, our Holy Father Pope Francis, in his homily at the closing Mass at World Youth Day to the young people, 3 million people were there by the way, he said, “Today, the light of the Word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us?” And he said three simple ideas, “Go, do not be afraid, and serve.”
So my dear brothers and sisters, as we reflect on the beauty and the privilege that we have in beine able to talk to God, to listen to God, to pray, as this week try to put these three simple ideas to practice — Go preach the Gospel. Do not be afraid, understand that God is your Father, my Father, our Father. And serve — serve him and our brothers and sisters.
Let us also continue to reflect on that beautiful prayer of our Father, every time that we have the opportunity to say the our Father, it should be at least once a day, or many times a day, at least, every Sunday when we come to Mass. Let us reflect on how we are praying with Jesus, asking for what is important for us and for our families, for friends, for the Church.
May our Lady of the Angels, our Blessed Mother, accompany us and help us to truly experience the beauty and depth of our pray to God our Father.
1. Readings (Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C): Gen. 18:20-32; Ps. 138:1-2, 6-8; Col. 2:2-14; Luke 11:1-13.
2. Catechism, 2763.