OCTOBER 6. Ord Time B. Wk 27. Wed. Lk 11. 1-4
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’
He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray:
‘“Father, may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come;
give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test.”’
At the outset of this reading, it is made clear that the disciples were impressed by the depth and sincerity of the way he prayed as it was only after they had observed him praying that they put the request to him; - “Lord, teach us to pray!”
This is something we often experience ourselves when we see someone deep in Prayer. The first mark that is noticed is how the person has absolutely no interest in anything going on around him, as when prayer is genuine the focus is solely on the one to whom we are giving our heart and mind.
And of course, this is a beautiful experience as in a sense it “takes one out of this world” and away from one’s concerns, worries and desires; - all of which disappear when one is praying to Almighty God. O, that we could pray like this when and if we want, but we know from experience these occasions are generally few and far between.
But this is the way God works with his sinful people, even those who are trying their best to have an intimate relationship with him. He gives us a “taste” of his presence from time to time; - but then he abandons us, often to periods of aridity; - just as he did with the disciples when they were at the Transfiguration. One moment they were enjoying contemplation, the next they were being told Christ was about to endure his Passion and Death!
The first thing to notice about Christ’s teaching on Prayer is that it is addressed to the Father, and not to himself. This is an important point! He taught us we have a “Father” in heaven and that we should go to him. In doing this there is no doubt he was aware of the special place a Father has in earthly life; - a position of Trust, and Love, and Mercy, and Generosity!
And the confidence we are able to place in that Paternal Love on earth, Christ wants us to hold towards “Our Heavenly Father;” – a relationship of Love, Trust, and Confidence!
Another feature of Christ’s teaching on prayer is he is telling us to approach ‘Our Father’ as children, a situation that endears us to God, and especially so if we are wayward children! In praying this way, we are also expressing confidence he will hear our prayers.
But, in telling us to approach God as Father, we are also being given responsibilities; - the responsibility to approach him as a child; - in a humble and respectful manner realising we have no “right” to our prayers being heard; - but we are depending, instead, on the Love and Mercy of a loving Father!
Gospel Acclamation Rm8:15
You have received the Spirit which makes us God’s children,
and in that Spirit we call God our Father.
First reading Jonah 4:1-11 · Jonah is angry at God's mercy
Jonah was very indignant; he fell into a rage. He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Ah, Lord, is not this just as I said would happen when I was still at home? That was why I went and fled to Tarshish: I knew that you were a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, relenting from evil. So now, Lord, please take away my life, for I might as well be dead as go on living.’ The Lord replied, ‘Are you right to be angry?’
Jonah then went out of the city and sat down to the east of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God arranged that a castor-oil plant should grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head and soothe his ill-humour; Jonah was delighted with the castor-oil plant. But at dawn the next day, God arranged that a worm should attack the castor-oil plant – and it withered.
Next, when the sun rose, God arranged that there should be a scorching east wind; the sun beat down so hard on Jonah’s head that he was overcome and begged for death, saying, ‘I might as well be dead as go on living.’ God said to Jonah, ‘Are you right to be angry about the castor-oil plant?’ He replied, ‘I have every right to be angry, to the point of death.’ The Lord replied, ‘You are only upset about a castor-oil plant which cost you no labour, which you did not make grow, which sprouted in a night and has perished in a night. And am I not to feel sorry for Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, to say nothing of all the animals?’