Archive for July, 2010

Homily – 17th Sunday OT C 7/25/10

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Homily – 17th Sunday OT C 7/25/10

The Importunate Neighbour by William Holman Hunt, 1895

Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel Ask and you will receive – Ask in prayer, and you will receive what you pray for.

This is one of those passages where we might be tempted to think the Bible is wrong.

Probably most if not all of us have asked God for things in prayer, and haven’t received them.

Sometimes it even seems like God’s sending us snakes and scorpions instead of the Fish and Eggs we ask Him for.

So what’s the problem? Why do we many times not seem to get what we pray for?

The problem is that Jesus didn’t say “Ask and you will receive, period.” There’s more to the sentence: What he said was “Ask and you will receive, Seek and you will find, Knock, and the door will be opened to you.”

Asking, Seeking and Knocking, are like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they are inseparable from each other when it comes to prayer.

In other words, Jesus says to us, “Ask for anything in prayer, and God will answer you – but you need to go seek God out to get it! He’s not going to bring it to you, He wants you to come get it from Him. Seek, and you will find. And the only way to God is through the narrow gate, and up the narrow road.

And once we have finished this seeking, once we’ve got off the wide road that leads to destruction and climbed up that narrow path of holiness which leads to life, even after all that seeking, then we have to knock on God’s door to please come out and give us the answer to our prayer. And nine times out of ten, God won’t open the door on the first or second knock.

Then and only then, will we obtain from our Heavenly Father what we have prayed for, and we will appreciate it all the more because of the effort it took to get it.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, prayer isn’t as simple and easy as it looks. To become a master at prayer, to pray effectively, takes great effort on our part.

Take a close look at the parable Jesus gives us on prayer.

This man goes out at midnight, not to the neighbor next door, but miles away to his friends house to ask His friend to help him.

And back in Jesus’ day, the man wouldn’t have just hopped in his car, drove down a paved road all lit up with street lights, and got there in a couple of minutes.

This man would have rather set out on foot, in the dark, down dirt roads and paths, with only a lantern to light his way.

He would have to be concerned about bad weather, biting insects, wild animals, and thieves as he made his way in the night to his friends house.

But the man in the parable willingly made that difficult journey, and didn’t turn back, because one, he cared greatly for his needy friend and would do anything for him, and two, the man knew that the friend he was journeying to would give him the help that nobody else could give.

Jesus is teaching us in this parable that to pray well takes the same love for others, the same faith in God’s power to answer our prayers, the same sacrifice of time and comfort, the same courage to turn away from sin and to seek the dark narrow way of holiness which leads to God, the same persistence in knocking on God’s door until He answers us.

Through this Holy Eucharist may Our Lord give us the grace to keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking, until God throws the door wide open and pours out His Holy Spirit in abundance upon us and those we pray for.

Homily — 16th Sunday OT C 7/18/10

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Homily — 16th Sunday OT C 7/18/10

Johannes Vermeer Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (c. 1655)

Johannes Vermeer Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (c. 1655)

In today’s Gospel we meet for the first time in the Scriptures a women whom Jesus becomes very good friends with, named Martha.

And this very brief scripture passage paints us a very detailed picture of Martha: her personality, her virtues and her shortcomings.

Martha comes across as an extrovert, a take charge type of person, a woman of action.

We also see that Martha possesses at least two virtuous qualities: the virtue of faith in Jesus and the virtue of hospitality.

These two virtues inspire Martha to welcome Jesus and probably the twelve apostles also to her home for dinner.

But what of course jumps out most to us is Martha’s shortcomings. Jesus sums them all up when he says to her “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.”

The Lord, who sees into the heart, looks into Martha’s heart and sees that it’s not just one thing Martha is anxious and worried about, she is rather anxious and worried about many things.

Yes, there’s the matter at hand, getting dinner ready and the table set and keeping everything warm without a microwave for 13 hungry men. All that’s got her a bit anxious and worried.

But that’s probably the least of Martha’s “many” worries and concerns.

We can only speculate what some of them were, but probably Martha worried over the things we worry over: over financial issues, personal health issues, perhaps she was worried about past or present sins she struggled with, perhaps she worried that she was worrying too much!

Martha certainly got anxiety over family matters. It is rather revealing that Martha asks Jesus to tell her sister to help her. Were the two not talking to each other?

We also find out later that Martha’s brother Lazarus has some serious health issues, which also must have caused Martha much anxiety.

And probably most of all, Martha was anxious and worried about her friend and Lord Jesus and his mission. She worried about how cold and dark and loveless this world was, she worried about how Jesus’ enemies were plotting to kill Him just two miles up the road in Jerusalem, she worried that all the good that Jesus was doing would be in vain.

And all of these anxieties come to a head and come bursting out of the extrovert Martha: Lord, do you not care? She asks Jesus.

Do you not care that my family life’s a wreck, that my sister and I aren’t talking to each other? Do you not care that my brother could fall ill at any time leaving us financially strapped? Do you not care that I keep falling into the same sins over and over again? Do you not care that tonight’s supper is going to be ruined, and that it very well might be your Last Supper if the Pharisees finally succeed in bringing you down? Do you not care what’s to become of us disciples if that happens?”

To which Jesus replies “Martha, Martha, only one thing is necessary, and Mary your sister has chosen it.”

Mary has all the same many anxieties and worries that you have Martha, and she even has a few others you don’t have, but Mary has brought those worries to me in prayer; Mary has taken time out each day to sit at my feet and let my Words permeate and transform her heart.

“In doing so, Mary still has the same problems, but she is not longer anxious and worried over them, she knows there’s no problem too big that God and her cannot handle.

Mary has chosen the better part Martha, and the peace and serenity her daily prayer has given her shall not be taken from her. Nor will it be taken from you Martha, if you would but sit at my feet a while and learn from me.”

It appears that Martha took Jesus up on his offer that day, for the next time we meet her it is when Jesus visits her at the death of her brother Lazarus.

And that day, Martha says to Jesus “even now in the midst of this crisis, I know, that whatever you ask of God, Jesus, God will give you, for I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the One who has come into the world.”

May us Marthas who are anxious and worried over many things bring our cares each day to the feet of Jesus, that we like Martha may learn to choose the better part and come to believe more firmly in Christ.

Lake Pictures

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Here are some photos taken last Saturday on my vacation in Maine.  After a day of pouring rain, the sky cleared up and there was the most spectacular sunset I’ve ever seen over the Lake.   Some of the photos are rather poor, but give an idea of the colors.