Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


29th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
October 20th, 2013
Year C

The story of St. Monica and her persistent prayer is probably the most famous in Church history. Her son, St Augustine, was a brilliant student with a promising future among the intellectuals of the Roman Empire. She had tried to bring him up in the Christian faith, but when Augustine came of age, he informed his mother that he had become a Manichean - this was one of the pagan philosophical religions that were anti-Christian. The news devastated her. It seemed that her oldest son was a spiritual lost cause. But she didn't give up on him yet. She spared no efforts to save him, taking him to meet with eminent theologians, arguing with him herself, disciplining him by taking away family privileges, and always, day after day, year after year, praying for him. Many times she spent entire nights in prayer. And when she did allow herself a few hours of rest, she cried herself to sleep. But nothing seemed to help. Only after ten years of darkness, frustration, and unceasing prayer was her prayer answered: her son came back to the Church and became one of history's holiest and most influential saints.

St. Monica provides us with a beautiful example of the message of today’s gospel. The parable of the unjust judge is an eloquent lesson in prayer. Comparing God with a person of this type of character makes the point even clearer: if even this unreasonable man can render justice for this poor widow who stops at nothing to plead her cause, how much more will God – who is infinitely just and is our Father – listen to the persevering prayer of His children. Therefore, Jesus tells us: “pray without becoming weary.”

Two questions arise from this lesson: why must we pray? And how do we pray? There are two main reasons for prayer:

  1. We pray because we are believers: Prayer is the recognition of our belief in God and that we depend on Him. It is an act of intelligence, humility, and gratitude – an attitude of trust and abandonment to Him who created us, gave us life, and sustains us with His love. Prayer is nothing mysterious; it is a real and profound dialogue with God.

  2. We pray because we fail, because we are sinners: Prayer reminds us that we are weak individuals in need of mercy. Often we are tempted by sin and distracted by the lure of the world, by the noise that fills our day. Prayer keeps us grounded in faith, helps us to discern the course of action, speak the right words, and pursue charity, purity and gratitude. Prayer gives us the inner strength to maintain our faith and to overcome weakness and temptation.

  3. A third reason could be thrown in – we pray because we are Christians, because Jesus’ life was one continuous prayer, a continual act of worship and love for the Father. Our prayer then starts with Him who teaches us to pray and it is directed toward Him because He is the object of prayer, as He is God.

Therefore, we must never stop praying! It is thus our duty and yet, at the same time, it is our joy because it is dialogue with God. Let not one day pass without prayer – everyday, morning and evening and at any suitable moments.

Still, one question remains: how? How do we pray? Prayer is simple because God is simple – it is a dialogue. Yet, we struggle with it – too busy, don’t know how, we get bored. This is because our world is so full of distraction. We are constantly bombarded by noise – music, TV, movies, etc. If prayer is a dialogue it naturally follows that we have to do some listening. We cannot, however, if we are so distracted by all this noise. In order to prayer, and to pray properly, we have to get comfortable with silence. Prayer is a dialogue and in part of that dialogue we talk to God. But we cannot forget to listen to Him. We have to take the ear buds out, turn off the music, the TV, and sit in the quiet recesses of our hearts. For there, deep down in our hearts is where we speak to God and where we are able to hear Him. The Episcopal motto of Cardinal reminds us: “Heart Speaks to Heart.” When we speak to God from our hearts, there does our faith in Him grow. For as St. Augustine once said: In order to pray, let us believe; and for our faith not to weaken, let us pray. Faith causes prayer to grow, and when prayer grows our faith is strengthened” (Sermon, 115).









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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