October 20, 2019
Dear Followers of Jesus,
Luke 18:1-8 today invites us to pray without becoming weary. This parable of the widow who finally wore down the judge is a story of how we are to remain consistent in our life of prayer. God, however, is not a dishonest judge. God showers us with compelling love that changes our hearts. Showing up for prayer is often our greatest resistance.
This story invites us to remain persistent in our relationship with God. Prayer first of all is a relationship. Prayer is not a commodity. It is not a slot machine in heaven where we purchase what we need and hope for the best. God is not an aspirin in the sky to take our pain away. God is not a judge with whom we constantly bargain. We don’t pray and make promises that we won’t sin to get an answer to prayer that we want.
Mass, the Eucharist, is our greatest prayer. When we come together as community, we worship God who invites us into mystical union with the Trinity. We receive Christ Jesus in his Real Presence. We become what we eat. We live what we become. The entire Mass is addressed to the Father. We literally stand next to Christ Jesus offering our lives to the Father as Christ offered his life, his passion, his death and his resurrection. Our prayer is in union with Christ Jesus, an eternal offering of love, mercy and compassion.
As Christians, we are slow to realize such a gift of our prayer. We are slow to absorb such a reality that we belong to Christ Jesus. This is our true identity. This is our true life on earth. Sometimes we even fear this reality. God gets too close to us and we don’t know how to love back. So we search the world landing on other identities. We may drink too much or use drugs as an identity. We may grow fearful and angry and live in such a place for years. We may believe that happiness lies outside our selves. This may lead us to sex addiction or hoarding or other addictions and never realizing that real life comes to us from the inside out. Our hearts may grow cold and lonely in the meantime.
The Eucharist will never mean anything to us unless we have a life of deep, honest personal prayer. Our Christian identity cannot be fostered for only an hour on Sunday. Prayer is a relationship with God that is like any other relationship. Prayer is a gift, initiated by God, but we have to do our part by showing up to such a gift of mercy. Prayer challenges us. Prayer is a call to change. Prayer invites us into living a more deeply human life. When we invite God into our hearts, we begin to view life differently. We may not always get what we think we want, but our hearts grow wider into seeing life more abundantly. In prayer, we view the real needs of all humanity. We see our children differently. We view people who are different from us with new eyes. We see our own foibles and silliness with a greater humility.
Believe in God. Believe in all humanity. Believe in your life as a person of prayer. Believe in the Mass.