Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
July 28th, 2013
Year C

On one occasion, a monk was traveling with a farmer from one village to another. The farmer was boasting to the holy monk about how he could pray without any distractions. The wise old monk told him that it was impossible, even he fell victim to distractions in prayer. “I’ll bet you my horse,” said the monk, “that you cannot pray the Our Father one time without at least one distraction.” The farmer agreed. He knelt down on the roadside and began to pray the Our Father out loud. When he got to the phrase, “give us this day,” he looked up at the monk and said: “can I have the saddle too?”

Today’s gospel affords us the opportunity to reflect a bit on the nature of prayer. St. Luke gives us the abridged version of the Lord’s Prayer. We of course, are more familiar with St. Matthew’s version. Jesus often went off by Himself to pray. This makes His disciples want to learn from the Master. So He teaches them to do what He does, call upon the Father. The first characteristic of prayer is that it carries with it the simplicity of a son or daughter conversing with the Father. Yet, there is more to it than that. Contained within the Lord’s Prayer are seven petitions. It is regarded as the most perfect prayer since it comes from the lips of the Savior. The Seven Petitions are the following:

  1. Hallowed be Thy Name: We pray that God’s name be known, loved, honored, and served by others. In this way we desire God’s glory more than our own.

  2. Thy Kingdom Come: We pray that the life and work of Jesus Christ be made known and lived in the Church and in the world.

  3. Thy Will Be Done: We pray here that we humbly identify with God’s will. In this way we abandon ourselves into His loving embrace.

  4. Give Us this Day our Daily Bread: Here we pray for our daily needs, but most of all to be nourished supernaturally – filled with His grace in the Holy Eucharist.

  5. Forgive Us Our Trespasses: We pray here for God’s forgiveness – for ourselves and for others. Here we are asking God to be aware of our sins and to help us to forgive the sins of others.

  6. Lead Us not into Temptation: Here we pray for divine assistance that we not be deceived but that the grace of God strengthen our resolve to be faithful.

  7. Deliver Us from Evil: That is, deliver us from Satan. We pray here for God’s protection but also that He free us from the enemy.

This prayer is, essentially, a summary of the Gospel. We pray this prayer everyday at Mass, we pray it often on our own and I frequently ask people to say this prayer as a penance. Now when we pray it, we will have a better understanding of what we are saying.
Yet, often enough many of us struggle to pray. Perhaps it is due to lack of time, effort, and energy. Maybe it is because when a person prays and does not have their prayers answered in the way they expect, one gives up on it entirely. It could also be possible that many people struggle to pray because they do not know how. Let us, therefore, reflect a bit more on the nature of prayer.

As was mentioned already, the first characteristic of prayer is that it is a simple conversation with the Father. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines prayer as “the raising of the heart and mind to God…” But the definition continues, “But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or ‘out of the depths’ of a humble and contrite heart? He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer, only when we humbly acknowledge that ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought,’ are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. ‘Man is a beggar before God (CCC 2559).’” Prayer, therefore, comes from the heart and is grounded in love. Bearing this in mind, the Catechism goes on to describe prayer as a covenant – an exchange between persons – and a union of hearts.

In light of the above description of prayer, a question still lurks: “how do I pray?” I had this experience on a silent retreat once. I was conversing with my retreat director and describing some thoughts I had while reading Scripture. The retreat director asked me: “and these thoughts came about while reading Sacred Scripture?” I replied, “yes.” “Well, then, you prayed.” It was that simple. The key, however, to understanding prayer, is to make sure that it is sincere, that it is from the heart. Prayer is an act of the mind and the heart. It is sometimes speaking to God, pouring out our hearts to Him, telling Him of all our struggles, difficulties, illnesses, and sufferings desiring that He bring us consolation and peace. It is sometimes – and often – being thankful for His grace, consolation, and help. It is sometimes meditative, an activity of the mind that reflects on Scripture passages, also called Lectio Divina. Finally, prayer is listening, being silent before God, a keen awareness of His presence and being content knowing that He is near.

A person can pray in the home, in a designated area of the house that is quiet and conducive for prayer. Yet, at the same time, no place is better than in His own house. Prayer in the presence of God, before the Blessed Sacrament, in fact is the most proper place for prayer. Many graces come to the soul that prays, that sits with our Lord in the quiet recesses of the heart. For one that prays, his heart is expanded and grows in its capacity to love. May this grace come to us as we continue this prayer of Church.















Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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