Thursday, February 18 ~ First Week in the Season of Lent
Holy Gospel: Matthew 7:7-12 Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”
Meditation: Those who know and trust in God’s love, pray with great boldness. Saint John Chrysostom, a Father of the Church, had this to say about the power of prayer: “Prayer is an all-efficient panoply [i.e. ‘a full suit of armor’ or ‘splendid array’], a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, and the mother of a thousand blessings. It exceeds a monarch’s power. ..I speak not of the prayer which is cold and feeble and devoid of zeal. I speak of that which proceeds from a mind outstretched, the child of a contrite spirit, the offspring of a soul converted – this is the prayer which mounts to heaven. ..The power of prayer has subdued the strength of fire, bridled the rage of lions, silenced anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, relieved diseases, averted frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. In sum prayer has power to destroy whatever is at enmity with the good.”
Prayer: Bestow on us, we pray, O Lord, a spirit of always pondering on what is right and of hastening to carry it out, and, since without you we cannot exist, may we be enabled to live according to your will. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Without a doubt God hears our prayers. Esther’s prayer on behalf of her people is a model for us. She prayed for help according to God’s promise to be faithful to his people. God wants us to remember his promises and to count on his help when we pray. Jesus wanted to raise the expectations of his disciples when he taught them how to pray. Jesus’ parable of the father feeding his son illustrates the unthinkable! How could a loving father refuse to give his son what is good; or worse, to give him what is harmful? In conclusion Jesus makes a startling claim: How much more will the heavenly Father give to those who ask! Our heavenly Father graciously gives beyond our expectations. Jesus taught his disciples to pray with confidence because the Heavenly Father in his goodness always answers prayers. That is why we can boldly pray: Give us this day our daily bread. Prayer flows from the love of God; and the personal love we show to our neighbor is fueled by the love that God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus concludes his discourse on prayer with the reminder that we must treat our neighbor in the same way we wish to be treated by God and by others. We must not just avoid doing harm to our neighbor, we must actively seek his or her welfare. In doing so, we fulfill the law and the prophets, namely what God requires of us — loving God with all that we have and are and loving our neighbor as ourselves. The Holy Spirit is every ready to transform our lives in Jesus’ way of love. Do you thirst for holiness and for the fire of God’s love?