Saturday, October 26, 2013

Prayer Poured Out-Gospel Reflection for 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

A story of a famous rabbi, who when faced with a real challenge to his Jewish flock, would go into the forrest to pray.  He would light a fire, say the prayer and the prayer would be answered.  Later when a disciple found himself with a challenge, he did the same by going into the forrest to offer the prayer. However he pleaded to God that he did not know how to light a fire.  Never the less his prayer was answered.  Later still another rabbi with his own crisis went into the forrest for the same purpose.  However his plea was that he did not know how to light a fire NOR even knew the prescribed prayer.  His crisis was averted.  Finally another rabbi needed to overcome an impending misfortune.  He just cried out to God. " I do not know how to light a fire, nor know the prayer, or even know how to find the forrest"!  Of course God heard his plea and no misfortune occurred. (from "The Sower's Seeds-Brian Cavanaugh TOR-Paulist Press 2004)

It is interesting that we can set so many limits to what authentic prayer is.  As we know prayer is nothing more than our communication with our God.  It can fit different moods and can be offered with great pomp and circumstance, or accompanied by only the natural sounds around us.  It should flow from a Christian piety; meaning a dutifulness toward a religion.  It is different than the piety that Jesus speaks of in the gospel.  That piety was so disconnected from the Jewish faith that it became both its own means and end. Constant unauthentic piety without integrating into the world is only self serving.  To live a pious Catholic life, one must be attentive to the world, because our religion is focused on life in this world and for us to prepare it to be like the world to come. And our prayer must reflect our faith. We cannot honestly pray or have an honest conversation with God if we only judge others harshly and set ourselves apart from those we meet every day.   Authentic prayer turns us inward to God that carries us outward to right relationship with others.  God who calls us to be of service to each other, especially the poor.

In the first reading from Sirach we are taught that God shows no partiality/God does hear the cries of the poor, the “Anawim”  But what about us?  We all know what Jesus asks, the challenge for us is to see how well we are doing on a daily basis. To pray like the poor….open to hearing and speaking to God; and constantly!  Too often we are like the Pharisees with the false piety of one.  Prayer then is to be poured out!  Not a trickle….or even a flash flood. An authentic prayer life binds us to our surroundings as well as ourselves.   A connective means to authentic prayer is a daily examen.   It is like standing in front of a mirror, a mirror that reflects our soul. If we all took every challenge, every disagreement, every hurt to authentic prayer I am convinced we would be led to a more positive and charitable outcome.  Most of our angers and disagreements stem from a refusal to acknowledge the God-in others, but simultaneously want to see the God-presence in ourselves.  Kind of unauthentic prayer, unauthentic piety, and unauthentic Catholic Christianity.

Most importantly for a Catholic Christian,  the tie that binds us together is to pray the liturgy, the mass.  This particular prayer is our apex for the week.  Listening to the words of scripture and the communal prayers; responding with our entire being, seeing ourselves and others gathered together. Bringing our sorrows and joys here for support and thanksgiving. This is true authentic prayer.  Poured out constantly.  


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