Jul 22, 2022

Pray

Gospel

Luke 11:1–13


Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,

 your kingdom come.

 Give us each day our daily bread

 and forgive us our sins

 for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,

 and do not subject us to the final test.”



Watching him pray, his disciples could see that Our Blessed Lord was intimately in touch with heaven. In a way it was “written all over his face”, but this was more noticeable when the Lord would go to "certain places" to be alone in prayer. 


For example, this is what you do when you come in early and sit in the church, when you look around and gaze at the sacred images wondering how they might reflect a little glimpse of heaven in our direction. Prayer is when we light a candle, and our focus becomes, not inward, but reaching out through the darkness of this world to the beyond.  Prayer is following the trail of incense as it drifts upward to heaven. It is the words of scripture, which are presented in the selected passages from the bible, or have been weaved together into conversations with God, which we have come to know by heart, or try to make our own.  Prayer is the raising of the heart and soul, reaching out to heaven.


The first place for prayer is actually not here in the church building. It’s at home in your own house.  We come to the church to give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received during this past week, and we offer our prayers and sacrifices to God for our own good and the good of all his holy Church as we begin another week.


But, every day, our homes are sacred places.  It is there we are to find a place to pray every day. But increasingly our homes can become noisy places, cluttered places, and busy places.  This is why it is always good that there be a sacred space in your home, a place where you can withdraw to, to bring the family around, to pray especially the familiar sacred words that have been passed down to us from generation to generation, and where our minds can focus on the sights and sounds of heaven. And even to ask,  “Lord, teach us to pray”.


Christ does teach us how to pray. In fact, he gives us a formula, a template, and words to say. “Our Father, who art in heaven…” - Listen to them as if the Lord himself were teaching you these words, asking you to ponder on the deep meaning that each verse has for all of us and every time we bring these divine words to our mind and lips, to allow them to sink deeper and deeper into our soul.


As we ask Christ to teach us to pray, consider who taught him! As he grew up, Mary would have helped him to say his first words, how to read the scriptures, how to pray according to the tradition of the Chosen People.  In her teenage years her own words to the angel, “Be it done unto me, according to thy will”, seem to echo through the verse of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. And when Christ was alone in the garden of Gethsemane, hours, I’m sure he thought of his mother and her words to the angel message thirty years ago he himself prayed to his Father, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”


Prayer is not a nicety of Christian life; it is allowing Christ to pray through us, so that his words become our own.  In this Holy Mass, let our prayer be united with Calvary in the greatest prayer that ever reached heaven.

Jul 16, 2022

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Luke 10:38–42

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”


The image that comes to mind after reading the Gospel which speaks of the two sisters Martha and Mary is that of one who is concerned with the needs of guests and the other who sits at the feet of the Lord listening to his voice. When the Lord told Martha that she was anxious about too many things and her sister Mary had chosen the better part by listening, the Gospel does not share with us how she reacted. If we presumed by the tone of Martha’s complaint to the Lord that there was tension between the two sisters over the demands of catering for visitors we would miss the point.

Instead, to offer us a greater insight into a bigger picture to contemplate, the Church has given us an appetizer, so to speak, in the form of the First Reading – the visitation of the three mysterious guests to the tent of Abraham (Gn. 18:1-10a). On the surface one can easily recognize the demands of hospitality and generosity evident as a theme to this Old Testament event. This may also provide us with a reflection on the corporal works of mercy demonstrated by feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty.

But for the Christian when we look back to these events through the lens of faith, we can see in Abraham’s remarkable hospitality and Sarah’s listening attentively behind the scenes, a “dress rehearsal” for the Annunciation when the Virgin Mary was told by the angel she would bear a son whose name would be Jesus.

When the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus, God was “enfleshed” (i.e. incarnated) in humanity in every way except sin. God experienced human hunger and thirst. We saw this spelt out clearly when Christ was in the desert fasting. We are told that he was hungry. Now, we find him being fed by the love and generosity of family and friends.

Martha provides a valuable service to God. It is by her sacrifice and acts of charity that she nourishes the Lord’s body, providing him with the necessary sustenance so that he might continue his journey. This gives Christ the strength of mind and body in order to accomplish his mission. He will need this strength in order to carry the cross. 

But when Martha complains that she finds herself alone in her work, Christ reminds her, as he does us, in more words than one, that a time will come when there will be no need to feed the physical body – a time will come when it will be transformed and fed by the very presence of God. 

Remember Christ’s words while he was being tempted by Satan in the desert, “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. However, Mary the sister of Martha also provided us with a glimpse of hunger, not of a body for food, but of a soul hungry for God. In the words of St. Augustine, Martha’s sister “was eating the one she was listening to…because he was the one who said ‘I am the Bread come down from heaven’. This is the bread which nourishes and never diminishes”.

After the consecration, what we perceive with our natural eyes as bread and wine, the heavenly angels from their perspective see the glorious body of the living Christ. It is for this reason that this Blessed Sacrament is called the “Bread of Angels”. 

Today’s Gospel allows us to imitate Martha’s generosity in preparing the table and the offerings needed to celebrate this holy banquet and accomplish works of charity. Martha’s sister, Mary, will then show us how our attention must be drawn, not to our own kindness or anything that we can do or accomplish, but to Christ’s who, out of his eternal sacrifice and generosity, gives us himself as the true Bread that has come down from Heaven. And there is enough food for everyone to feast on! 

Our Work is Never Done


 Invocation Prayer
Retirement Ceremony for Gunnery Sergeant Justin Lienemann USMC
Marine Corp Recruitment Depot, San Diego
June 24th 2022


God, creator and sustainer of all that exists. When you unlocked the gates of time, from that first moment of our conception, one by one you called us forth as a son or daughter made in your image, to a place and for a purpose, and into the unfolding of history, not only of this great nation, but of the whole world. 


But your work is never done, you never retire from your duty to sustain, protect and nourish all that is good. And as long as we have breath, neither can we, for your presence, without beginning or end, resonates deep within us. For out of the depths we breathe, we sing and send forth our own music, unique in all creation that even the angels on high pause to listen. 


That we might carry your note faithfully, you embodied yourself, untainted, in our flesh and blood. You taught us a new song, a battle hymn of a new kingdom, a kingdom of your justice and peace, of a restored creation worth fighting and worth dying for. 


You marched, with us and ahead of us, step by step, encouraging us, up and down the ranks, with discipline and with food for the journey, commanding us not to give in to fear or despair, for at our side you keep us in true formation, of body and soul united, so that each of us, one by one, might reflect your power and glory. 


May we always take your lead, listen to your voice, tune the chords of our heart and the breath of our soul to your song even as we march through the blazing heat of the day or through a bitter valley of darkness.


For it is not the beating drum that beckons us forwards in hope, nor the distant echo of the tapps assuring us of true rest from the battle. Instead let it be the sound of your own beating heart Oh merciful God, the eternal song of the Savior’s love and the prayer of a mother for her children that they return home safely. Only then can we all retire, after the final battle is won and a victory celebration begun through Christ our Lord.  Amen. 


Father Cávana G. Wallace

Pray

  Gospel Luke 11:1–13 Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to...