AD SENSE

1st Week of Lent, Tuesday, Feb 23

 1st Week of Lent, Tuesday, Feb 23

Isaiah 55:10-11 / Matthew 6:7-15 

Jesus teaches about prayer; "This is how you are to pray. "

 

Two men were arguing about religion. As the argument heated up, the one man shouted at the other,

"I'll bet five bucks you don't even know the Lord's Prayer." "I'll take that bet," the other shouted. Then he began praying, "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."

The other man looked at him in amazement and said, "I'll be darned! You win! I didn't think you knew it."

Sometimes we might just as well be praying "Now I lay me down to sleep" as praying the Lord's Prayer. For we pray it without really thinking about what we are saying.

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How attentively do we pray the Lord's Prayer? "In praying, do not babble like the pagans." Matthew 6.7

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God speaks his word to people in many ways: first of all, his word-in-action, that is, his saving deeds; his words written down in the Bible again, more the language of action than of words; the words he speaks through other people, through prophets past and present, through human encounters. Above all, God speaks his living Word, Jesus Christ.

God’s word can be heard only and find resonance when it takes on flesh and blood – when it becomes incarnate – in the lives of people and vibrates with human thought and feeling. If so, one can respond to it with prayerful words of recognition and with the living prayer of deeds. Prayer is our echo to God’s word and so are our deeds.

In this eucharistic celebration God speaks his word to us in the readings and he gives us his living Word in the eucharistic bread.

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Very often, it seems to us that the forces of evil are victorious and even overwhelming. Men of violence assert their power and might over innocent people and even kill them. It seems that justice is slow in coming, if ever at all. The movie industry will take advantage of this fact by churning out all those kinds of "pay-back" movies. Justice is done only in reaching out for the gun. But it is only confined to the reel-world of the movies.

So where is justice? Is there any justice? Yet we know that there is justice. At least, we will remember Jesus saying this: He who draws the sword will also die by the sword. Yet, Jesus also did say : Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. Those are profound of truth, profound words of life, words which, as the 1st reading puts it, does not return to the Lord empty without carrying out His will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.

We can only understand what justice is when we know what the truth is about. In the gospel, Jesus taught us a prayer. It is a prayer of truth. It is a prayer for justice. When we pray the Lord's prayer, we are also praying that the truth of God will bear fruits of love in our lives so that we will work for justice in the world. Truth goes before justice. Because there can never be justice without truth.

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    Encountering Christ: 

    1. Simple Words for Perfect Prayer: These words of Jesus are perfect, simple, and concise. Each precious phrase invites us to a conversion of heart, soul, and mind. Christ tells us we should begin our prayer with a surrender to the divinity of God, our almighty Father. We then ask our loving Father for seven petitions: 1) Hallowed be thy name, 2) Thy kingdom come, 3) Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, 4) Give us our daily bread, 5) Forgive us our trespasses, 6) Lead us not into temptation, and 7) Deliver us from evil. Christ’s words are eloquent in their simplicity and clarity, yet they contain challenge upon challenge to our fallen human nature.

    2. A Synthesis of Scripture: Each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer touches upon truths found in other parts of Scripture. Only Jesus could have spontaneously provided such a beautiful synthesis of the Divine Word for us! For example, when we say “Our Father in heaven,” we echo Isaiah 66:1 and Acts 7:49: “Heaven is your throne and the earth is your footstool.” “Hallowed be thy name” is reflected here: “From the rising of the sun to its setting, may your name be praised and be great among the nations! Let your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalms 113:3-4). “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” is similar to, “For the glory of your name, deliver us and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! (Psalms 79:9). (For a more complete look at the scriptural roots of the Our Father, The Lord’s Prayer, awesome in its depth and scope, offers a perfect framework for our daily prayer.

    3. Grace for Our Prayer Lives: The Our Father is one of the most familiar prayers in all of Christianity. In our fallen human state, we can easily speak the words of the Lord’s Prayer mechanically, but to truly surrender ourselves to our Father, we need his help. Only the grace of the Holy Spirit can conform our hearts and minds to the aspirations of this prayer. Like children, we must ask for our Father’s assistance in a task that we can not hope to accomplish alone. 

    Conversation with Christ: Oh Lord, how easy it is to speak the words to the Lord’s Prayer. I have known it all my life. How hard it is to open my heart and mind and pray as I should. Please give me a childlike trust in you, my beloved Father. I humbly ask you to send your Spirit upon me, and to unite my soul to each and every word of this perfect prayer.

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will write out the Lord’s Prayer, leaving space between each line. I will use those blank spaces to jot down inspirations from the Holy Spirit on how I can better pray each part of this most perfect prayer.

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Prayer

Lord God, you speak your mighty word to us, but we cannot hear it unless it stirs our lives and is spoken in human terms.  Keep speaking your word to us, Lord, and open our hearts to it, that it may bear fruit in us when we do your will and carry out what we are sent to do.  We ask you this through your living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen