The story is told of a woman who each morning greeted the new day by. stepping out on her front porch and praying loudly thanking God for His many

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1 Homily by Deacon Kerry D. Blandford, Parish Life Coordinator at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, Given at Saint Matthew Catholic Church, July 23-24, 2016, Cycle C The story is told of a woman who each morning greeted the new day by stepping out on her front porch and praying loudly thanking God for His many blessings and bringing to Him her needs and the needs of others. Now, this was very annoying to her next door neighbor who was an atheist, and he would often wait until she finished and then shout, You re wasting your breath! There is no God! This went on for years. One morning the woman began her prayer with praise but ended it by asking for God s help in a very specific way. It seems that she had had unexpected bills and had no money for groceries, so she prayed asking God to help her with groceries just for the week. Her neighbor heard this and shouted, There is no God to help you. But, he wasn t really a bad fellow, so he went to the store, bought several bags of groceries, and early the next morning put them on the woman s porch. When the woman found the groceries the next morning she began loudly praising and thanking God. And at this her atheist neighbor shouted, God didn t put those groceries there I did! Well, the woman paused, thought about it for a moment, and then continued praying, Thank you God, not only did you provide me with groceries, but you got the devil to pay for them!

2 Well, this week s readings call us to really think about prayer. Now, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines prayer as: The elevation of the mind and heart to God in praise of His glory; a petition made to God for some desired good, or in thanksgiving for a good received, or in intercession for others before God. OK. - It then continues to tell us that Through prayer the Christian experiences a communion with God through Christ in the Church. Perhaps a simpler way to look at it might be that prayer is spending time with God, and that may involve talking with God. Now, I said talking with not to God. Talking with someone involves our also listening. So, what about our readings? Well, in the first reading we hear Abraham talking with God. It might even appear that he is haggling or bargaining with God. Really he s not. It s a conversation between Abraham and God highlighting Abraham s growth in concern for others and God s mercy. Abraham is making intercession for others, and God, in His mercy, is listening. Actually, the Gospel helps us to put it into perspective. Jesus tells us of the importance of persistence, but He also reminds us that God will give us what is good for us. And, God, in His infinite wisdom, will be the One to decide what that is. That s where the listening really comes in

3 When we really pray the Our Father, it brings it all into focus for us. And, I ll digress slightly and say that s the one problem with prayers like the Our Father, they are so familiar, we know them so well, that we can find ourselves simply reciting rather than truly praying them. So, let s consider: Our Father Jesus didn t say My Father. God is Father to all, and we are called to respond as a community, a family, of believers. Got is imminent. He is close to us, and He wants us to enter into an intimate, loving relationship with Him. Who are in heaven God is transcendent. God is above all things. Yes, there is a tension here, a balance here. God is Almighty and yet lovingly calls us to be His children. Hallowed be thy name. Hallowed means holy. Only God is holy on His own. It is through grace, sharing in God s life that we too become holy. So far, pretty straight forward. Now, we come to the first tricky part. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is now. It s up to us to bring the kingdom into its fullness and that s the first catch in really praying the Our Father. We are committing to doing something about it. What if God stopped us right there and asked, Sounds good, what have you done about it today?

4 OK, Give us this day our daily bread. Daily bread what we need for the day enough. We trust in God for the future, but today we are satisfied with what we have. And, again, we need to do our part. There s a story told of a fellow who prayed every day, God, let me win $300 million dollars in the lottery. Finally, in frustration he prayed, Why won t You let me win? And, God responded, First, you don t really need $300 million dollars, and second, you could meet me halfway and actually buy a ticket. OK and here comes the second tricky part, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. How forgiving, how merciful are we with those who have hurt us. For that matter, do we seek forgiveness from those we ve hurt? Again, there s a level of commitment involved here And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. We know that God does not lead us into temptation or evil, but we pray for His help, His grace to avoid those things that lead us to sin. And, if we are honest, we all know what our near occasions of sin really are. Finally - Amen. Literally, Yes, I believe, I agree this is so. So, after reciting, saying, praying, the Our Father, the question is do we really mean it? All of it?

5 Fr. Hilary Ottensmeyer, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, once wrote Unless you are convinced that prayer is the best use of your time, you will never find time to pray." I m going to quibble with Fr. Hilary over one word find. I don t believe that we ever find time. We need to make it. So how about, Unless you are convinced that prayer is the best use of your time, you will never make time to pray."? So, I m going to leave all of us with two challenges today. First: Let s really focus and pray the Our Father when it comes around in a few minutes. And, second : Let s make some extra time to really pray this week.

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