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Sunday's Sermon: The Power of Trusting and Persevering Prayer Print
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Saturday, 20 October 2007 02:22

I call upon you, God, for you will answer me; bend your ear and hear my prayer. Guard me as the pupil of your eye; hide me in the shade of your wings.(1) This is the Entrance Antiphon for today's Mass.

The texts of today's liturgy focus our attention on the power of trusting and persevering prayer to reach the mind of God. In the Gospel passage St Luke prefaces the parable with an explanation of Christ's intent: Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. (2) In the supernatural life there are actions which are performed once and for all, such as Baptism and Holy Orders. Other actions are repeated many, many times, such as pardoning, understanding, smiling cheerfully ... There are other actions and attitudes which we should practice continually. Among these we find the spirit of prayer, which is the manifestation of a living faith in our Father God. St Augustine (3) commented on this Gospel passage by emphasizing the close connection between faith and trusting prayer: If one's faith weakens, prayer withers ... Faith is the fountain of prayer ...A river cannot flow if its source is dried up? Our prayer needs to be continuous and confident like the prayer of Jesus, our model: Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always.(4) God is always listening to our prayers.

The First Reading from the book of Exodus presents us with the scene of the Chosen People in battle with the Amalekites at Rephidim (5).

Moses decides to pray to God on a hilltop while Joshua and his forces take on the enemy assault. As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek. To keep Moses praying, Aaron and Hur supported his arms, one on each side. They were thus able to keep Moses praying until sunset. With the edge of the sword Joshua cut down Amalek and his people.We cannot grow weary of praying. If we should ever become tired of praying, let us ask our friends to shore us up. The Lord sends us many graces in times of trial. These graces are more necessary and more important than the gifts we ask for. St Alphonsus Liguori has taught: The Lord wants to grant us his graces, but He also wants us to ask for them. One day he said to his disciples: 'Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24).

It was as if he were saying: Do not complain to me if you are not filled with blessings. Complain to yourselves for not having sought from me what you need. From now on, ask of me and your prayers will be answered. (6) St. Bernard has commented that many people complain like this, saying that the Lord has forsaken them. But Jesus himself laments that these same complainers have not really asked for his assistance. (7) Let us resolve to pray as Moses did: with perseverance that nothing could shake, and at times with the help of his friends as was necessary. A great deal depends on our devotion.

Let us examine the quality of our prayer today. Is it persevering, trusting, insistent, tireless? Persevere in prayer, as the Master told us. This point of departure will be your source of peace, of cheerfulness, of serenity, and so it will make you humanly and supernaturally effective. (8) There is nothing more powerfully effective than steadfast prayer.

Footnotes:

1. Entrance Antiphon, Ps 16:6-8

2. Luke 18:1-8

3. cf St Augustine, Sermon 115,1

4. John 11:42

5. Ex 17:8-13

6. St Alphonsus Liguori, Sermon 46 for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

7. cf St Bernard, Sermon 17 on various themes

8. J. Escriva, The Forge, 536

 

With permission from Scepter UK. Short excerpt from IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD by Francis Fernandez. Available at SinagTala or Totus Bookstore 723-4326 or at www.totusbookstore.com.

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