24th July, 2022

The Lord's Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer in Jerusalem

Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C

We can say that today’s Gospel has a similar message to the Gospel we reflected upon a week ago. Two specific words formed the main and most important topic of that Gospel, so I have focused my reflection on them. Those words were: ‘prayer’ and ‘work’. In today’s passage, one of the disciples asked Jesus: ‘Lord teach us to pray’. You will probably agree with me if I say that this request is still valid today and perhaps many of us would like to ask Jesus the same question at different stages and on different occasions of our lives. It seems to me that more and more baptised Catholics and Christians don’t know how to pray, therefore they avoid talking about faith, about spirituality, about their relationship with God, and of course they don’t come to church regularly. From my experience I know that our catholic schools do a great job – and I am not saying this only about two of our local schools: St Edward’s and St Thomas More – but generally. They do a wonderful job and educate our children well, however my impression is that parents, teachers and also priests talk less and less about the importance of prayer. In some Christian families, young people are not even taught how to say the ‘Our Father’ or ‘Hail Mary’ prayers as we and our generation were taught many years ago. If you are a parent, I encourage you to teach your children to pray, because this is your privilege and great responsibility too. Very often children in this country hear words like: ‘You are very special, you are outstanding, you are unique’ and it is very true, no doubt that is very motivating for them, but try to explain to them why are they so special. Because they are loved by God, they are His beloved children. Jesus showed to the world the true name of His Heavenly Father. He called Him Abba which means Daddy, and moreover He wanted His followers to do the same, to address God as He did. Our Heavenly Father wants us to talk to Him as little children address their beloved dads. When we pray, we realise who we really are in God’s eyes, and not only that, but we also come to know ourselves better. That’s why both spiritual and human formation are so important to us, in our families, in our parishes, in our schools, and in seminary formation for the priesthood. Yes, human and spiritual formation are equally important for us. Today’s Gospel encourages us to take care of our spiritual life. Let us allow our Heavenly Father to be involved in our daily formation, no matter how old we are, and what our profession is. I would also like to encourage you to have a daily routine that will include a set time for your personal prayer. First take a small step, at the beginning of that time make the sign of the cross and open your heart to the Holy Spirit. Say the ‘Our Father’ very slowly thinking about the words you are saying. Then start praising God in your own words. That is the first thing Jesus did: ‘Father hallowed be your name’ – He said. If you don’t know how to start, please don’t worry, you can use the similar words to those from the ‘Gloria’ that we say during Sunday Mass: ‘I praise you, I adore you, I glorify you, I give you glory, I give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly king, Lord God, my almighty Father’. Then ask Him to grant you whatever you need. Jesus says to us today: ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock, and the door will be open to you’. Beg Him for pardon and strength that you will be able to forgive those who hurt you. Remember that every conversation with God is called a prayer. Even a silent time spent with Him is a prayer. Then I suggest you to open the Bible, read a few verses and listen to His Words, be in His presence. You can conclude this precious time with another beautiful prayer of praise: ‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen’. Also, I encourage you to live a sacramental life, to go to confession regularly, to receive Holy Communion worthily. May your life be transformed, and your home become a house of prayer.

Fr Gregory