27 Wednesday in Ordinary Time
Jonah 4:1-11; Luke 11:1-4
In his catechesis on the Lord’s Prayer Pope Francis offered this reflection: “Christian prayer does not close its eyes on life. It is a filial prayer, not an infantile one.” And it can be so because “Jesus is at our side to deliver us from all manner of evil.” The Christian is called to pray with child-like confidence. We are not to follow the example of Jonah who had a fretful, uneasy spirit and thought he was entitled to have his way. To the fretful and rigid of spirit a God of mercy and compassion is a source of aggravation, even anxiety. Jonah pouts and God playfully teases him. The gourd plant was a small thing that seemed a valuable blessing at a time of need. Jonah was a man of strong passion who was easily pleased when the plant sprouted and then totally dejected when it withered. Blinded by his sense of entitlement, Jonah failed to see that after the plant withered, God was still with him. It is a great source of encouragement and reason for hope that God is faithful and that his love is everlasting.
It is our poverty and helplessness that plead our cause before the throne of mercy. In order to find our heavenly home, we need to confess our sins and throw ourselves into the hands of almighty God, trusting in his merciful love. Knowing and accepting our unworthiness is a great encouragement to prayer. Coming to the awareness that while we were yet sinners God loved us is the reason for our hope. We can confidently call upon him because his goodness is everlasting and shows itself in his willingness to give and to forgive. God has poured out his spirit of adoption upon us, one and all. Though we may be weak in ourselves God is strong in us. As I prepared this reflection, I was reminded of a song written by Joseph Wise, Lord, teach us to pray.
Lord, teach us to pray,
It’s been a long and cold December kind of day.
With our hearts and hands all busy in our private little wars,
We stand and watch each other now from separate shores.
We lose the way.
The plea of the apostles is a beautiful prayer, in itself. Asking the one who is the only intercessor between God and man to teach us to pray is a fact, an act of faith. In his reply to the request, Jesus shares with us an insight into his relationship with God. When you pray, say “Father” (CF Lk. 11:2). In this context it is good to recall the teaching of St. Paul. “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom. 8:15). “Abba, Father” is the secret of Jesus’ prayer. “Abba, Father, is the key that Christ gives us which allows us to enter into a relationship of loving dialogue with God of the Universe who created all things and keeps them in existence. “Abba, Father” brings us closer to a God who is holy and accessible. Jesus teaches us a prayer of trust and gratitude for not only an intimate relationship with God but also with those around us so that we can live free from anxiety. Pope Francis shared this reflection: “The Lord’s prayer is like “a symphony that seeks to be fulfilled in each of us.” I think that says it all.