Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Ready to change

 ‘…Prepare the way of the Lord....’ (Matthew 3:3)



Matthew 3:1-12 (Year A: The Second Sunday of Advent, 8th December, 2019)

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AN OVERVIEW OF THIS SUNDAY’S READINGS

COI & RC

Parallel Gospel readings to Matthew 3:1-12 are found in Mark 1:1-6 and in Luke 3:1-9
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SERMON NOTES (843 words)

The approach of Christmas is associated with a time of preparation, waiting and renewal. Here, in the northern hemisphere, we are closing in rapidly on the shortest day of the year, circa 21 December. When steering the liturgy of the young Christian communities in the first centuries after Christ, the disciples of Jesus were very much conscious of pagan myths and rituals especially around the times of the winter and summer solstices and spring or  autumn equinox.  In the advanced religion of the Jewish people the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, has a special place in the Northern winter around this time of the year. A festival of lights is also found among other religions including Hinduism and Buddhism. When it is darkest there is a natural human desire to witness some light.  In a striking way, this innate human desire is illustrated in a spectacular way in the construction of Newgrange some 5,000 years ago.

For us, today, Christmas stands at a secular crossroads with many roads leading to and from IKEA, B&Q, Tesco and others leading in other directions among which are counted (if we are fortunate or not) office parties, drinks, meeting up, a trip back to Ireland for the emigrants or somewhere else, Mass once a year with the grandparents, family get-together, walks by the sea or mountains, the sales on ‘Boxing Day’ (it is still called St Stephen’s Day in Ireland at least for now), back to work, January bills etc. This time of year brings many memories to people – mostly happy and wonderful but sometimes not since a place at table is vacant or some other reminder of less than happy things in the past associated, somehow, with Christmas time.  Whatever representation Christmas presents to us we do well, I suggest, to take a trip into those dark places within us as we tread gently there with candle in one hand and an anam-chara in the other. We may stop our searching and striving for a while each day and stay there in that silent and not so bright place; waiting and ready to receive in God’s own time and way.

This Sunday’s passage from the Gospel of Matthew might provide a short piece of text to stop and think about in that not so bright place. It speaks to us of someone who stood apart from the crowd and was not afraid to speak truth to power. Moreover, it speaks of someone who is a sign of contradiction. John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, points to a new way of life and a new order of things which is already breaking in to our world. He was no ordinary person. Clothed in ‘camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist’ and with ‘locusts and wild honey’ as his food we are picturing, here, not some finely clothed priest in the Temple or some man about society and the synagogue.  Here was someone who was a reproach to the social norms of the time. Yet, people came to him. There was something about his message and its impact. However, the cousin of Jesus plays something of a very backseat role in the gospel. Just as Jesus emerges on the scene, the Baptist fades away. Yet, his role and ministry is hugely important – like of that of Mary the mother of Jesus. 
When the Pharisees and Sadducees presented themselves for baptism, John in characteristic mode was not operating from the manual ‘How to win friends and influence people’ in declaring:
‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”.
This declaration is a direct assault on a religion of show, power and entitlement. Its purveyors miss the key point of real religion which is to bear good fruit born of a loving relationship with a God who is no more or no less than love. This is the meaning of true repentance – a decisive turning away from what is wrong and harmful and a turning towards what is good and wholesome.  Such a dramatic change of mentality and heart may be gradual or sudden as the case may be.  For most of us conversion – in the true sense of the term – is a slow, painful, two steps forward, one back (or one forward and two back at times) process.  To be saved is to know that peace and freedom that comes from a life well spent.

This advent is a time to be refreshed and to experience, again, the fruits of our own baptism. Advent is about waiting. But, it is also about openness to change. Change is possible no matter who we are and where we are at.


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A PRAYERFUL WALK THROUGH MATTHEW 3:1-12

John the Baptist features this Sunday and next. Then he fades away somewhat from the gospel story lines at least after the baptism of Jesus which signalled the beginning of his public ministry.

v.1-3   The voice of one crying in the wilderness
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. ’This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:  “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”’
John the Baptist knows his scripture and knows that something new is hidden in the Old while the Old is now about to be revealed in the New. He quotes Isaiah 40:3. Where are today’s prophets crying? And, what do they cry out?
v.4-6   Come to the waters
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
A large number of people came to him for healing and liberation from their demons. The image of water and immersion in it is powerful. It connects us with a Baptism in water and in the Holy Spirit which would follow in the not too distant future.
v. 7-10   John gives the religious respectables a lashing
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”.
John did not mince his words!
“The Christian of every generation is called to be awake and attentive to where society is slipping into wrong ways and to cry out like the prophet to return to the ways of God” (Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (December 2019).
v. 11-12     a baptism of fire beckons to us
‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’
There is a clear difference between John’s baptism and that of Jesus (though it seems that Jesus did not, himself, baptise during his earthly ministry).  This distinction was important for the early disciples to grasp since even after the death and resurrection of Jesus some followers clung to John the Baptist. They had do let go of the good Baptist to fully immerse in the Holy Spirit.
We live our own baptism throughout our lives and not just at one special moment of decision (although this may also feature in the disciple’s journey).  The Baptism of John was an important sign and challenge for the people of his time. The Baptism of Jesus would not be revealed until after his death when he poured his Holy Spirit on the those who believed in him. This latter baptism is witnessed today by countless millions starting with a once-off sacramental event but not stopping there because our baptism in the Holy Spirit and in the fire of God’s love is never finished until we have run life’s course.

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SOME IDEAS FOR INTERCESSIONS

During this time of special preparation for the feast of the birth of our saviour we unite our prayers with those of Christians throughout the world. In particular we pray for:
True freedom of conscience and expression in society including the Middle East…..
Those suffering the effects of sectarianism, war and terror…
The people of Iran at this time …
The communities in which we live and work…may we extend a genuine and warm welcome to those who seek truth and love….
The Christian churches … that we may hold to the true faith of Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit entrusted to us…
One another….
Other named persons ….
Remembering with thanks those who have gone before us….
… praying in silence….
Loving God accept gather up our prayers – those spoken and those unspoken in the depths of our hearts. In the places we live, work and communicate, may we be channels of peace and reconciliation in a tormented world.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Mindful and ready


“…Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (Matthew 24:44)




Year A: The First Sunday of Advent, 1st December, 2019.

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AN OVERVIEW OF THIS SUNDAY’S READINGS
COI & RC

A Gospel parallel reading to Matthew may be found in Mark 13:32-37 and in  Luke 17:26-37.
This Sunday marks the beginning of new ‘Church year’. The first Sunday of Advent triggers a new cycle of Sunday Gospel Readings and since this ‘year’ of 2019/20 is Year A we are back to the gospel of Matthew.

The first Sunday of Advent is centered on the second coming of Christ. The second Sunday recalls the preaching of John the Baptist who prepared the way for our Saviour. The third Sunday (or Gaudete Sunday signalling joy) continues the theme of preparation while the fourth and final Sunday of Advent is about the events leading up to the birth of Jesus.

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SERMON NOTES (585 words)

“…it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep” declares Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome (Romans 13:11).  “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” cries out the prophet Isaiah some eight centuries earlier (2:5).

We are in the darkest time of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere.  Soon, the days will become a little longer and little green shoots will appear everywhere. 

A light has shone on our world over 2,000 years ago and that light continues to shine today in the lives of many witnesses to God’s love. As we prepare for our unique festival of Christmas in which we celebrate the true light of the world we are invited by the Church to wait in joyful prayer and repentance of heart. Advent means coming; however, it signals the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh, the coming of God in our lives and hearts and an expectation of the second coming of Christ in glory at the end of time.  Jesus Christ is here already but, at the same time, is yet to come.
Many of us look forward to a secular break at Christmas time when we take time off from work, catch up and meet up and, perhaps, indulge the senses a little.  Spiritually, the notion of a time of special preparation including prayerfulness, self-denial, repentance and exercise of compassion are not exactly to the fore in the TV adverts, toy shows, glitzy lighting and bulk shopping.  But, there is an opportunity for us to stop and notice life.

Perhaps we need to take extra ‘time out’ this season and relish a simpler fare of life?  The poem ‘Advent’, by Patrick Kavanagh is worth reading again:
We have tested and tasted too much, lover –  Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder. But here in the Advent-darkened room Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea Of penance will charm back the luxury Of a child’s soul, we’ll return to Doom The knowledge we stole but could not use
Might we stop and notice:

our breathing.
our bodies.
our thinking.
our feelings.
nature all around us.
the person next to me in this moment of time.
something afar or not seen but in the mind’s eye and heart’s ear.

The question of ‘are we ready?’ is central to this passage in the Gospel of Matthew just as it is in the Gospels of Luke who seems to be following the same source used by Matthew. 

We find distraction in sundry indulgences from substance attachment to constant affirmation seeking on social media to projects that demand our all and we wonder why we are still missing something. But, in the midst of all this clamour and un-ease (or should we say dis-ease) we are reminded of what Jesus said according to Luke 21:28:
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
When faced with uncertainty and, perhaps, a lot of concerns and worries we do well to:

Stay calmly grounded in the here and now
Remain steadfast in love because this is the only thing that matters
Keep moving forward towards some goal or destination no matter how dim it seems.

The best way to prepare for death is to live life to the full now and to live it well so that we leave a good memory and example and find our well-being in this thought.

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A PRAYERFUL WALK THROUGH MATTHEW 24:36-44
The end-event in the life and ministry of Jesus is very much at hand in the carefully ordered and scripted Gospel of Matthew. A great trial awaits – the final one in the life of Jesus and He will be revealed as the Messiah – the one who was to come – to the Jewish people who had a special place in the audience of Matthew.

We are mindful of a first-century dispute and anxiety among the members of the early Jesus movement as a beleaguered community seeks to read the signs of the times in the face of persecution.  Dramatic events such as the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the Second Coming were anticipated at any time.  There was a widespread anticipation that these events could be experienced by some in this present generation. At a distance of 2,000 years, we may spiritualise the raw experience and reported sayings of Jesus. However, these teachings and stories carry salience for us today as our world faces catastrophic change and destruction arising from changes in our environment.

v.36   Not even the Son knows
 ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father’.
This can make for uncomfortable reading and some translations omit the latter clause. Clearly, there is much in the relationship of Father and Son that we do not know about. There is no editor’s note, here, about ‘in my experience’ or ‘in my human nature’. It stands as it stands. As often arises in the reading of the scriptures we must place this saying alongside others including ‘The Father and I are one’ (John 10:30). Scripture must be read with a wide eye and a deep heart.

v.37-39   As in Noah’s time
For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.
There is a lesson for us today. In the day to day business of living a storm s brewing. It is called climate change leading to sudden and continuous calamities – environmental, political and humanitarian. We may ignore, deny or refuse to act but those days of reckoning are upon us. Truly, we are living in biblical times.

v.40-41   The meaning of the comparison explained.
Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 
William Loader makes a pertinent comment about this whole passage:
The watching is a dramatic way of speaking about God-connectedness. It is not very edifying if it is reduced to an exhortation not to misbehave in case you get 'caught with your pants down', as they say, when Jesus comes. It is about developing an awareness of what the God of the future is saying and doing in the present, to take a God perspective on the issues of the day and the future and to let that happen at all levels of our reality, from our personal lives to our international community, including our co-reality in creation. It is a stance nourished by the eucharistic vision of hope. It is taking the eucharistic table into the community, into the present, and letting it watch us and keep us awake to what is happening. [commentary on the lectionary by William Loader available here].
V42-44   Stay alert!
 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.   But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.  Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
We do not when or how God will meet us in our journey beyond this life. We must live as people of peace, of hope and of readiness. Much of what concerns is very relative and even very small.


Friday, 1 November 2019

To live is to change


“…And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully” (Luke 19:6)




Luke 19:1-10  (Year C: The Fourth Sunday before Advent, 3rd November, 2019)

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AN OVERVIEW OF THIS SUNDAY’S READINGS
COI
RC (31st Sunday in Ordinary Time)

There are no parallel readings to Luke 19:1-10 in the other two synoptic gospels.
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SERMON NOTES (697 words)

These words – “to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often”* were composed by a certain Englishman, John Henry Newman (1801-1890), an Anglican at heart, who found his ecclesial home on the far side of the river Tiber in Rome and now Saint John Henry Newman to a billion or so Christians. He had more than a passing association with Ireland in the sowing of seeds for University College Dublin. 

The implications of changing often and changing for the better – please note – is that to others one may seem contrarian, unstable and incoherent. One might also undergo the gauntlet of losing a few friends and family members along the way. Hint - many a ‘convert’ from one branch to another of the Christian family knows a thing or two about these matters. However, ruthless honesty and a thirst for the ‘good life’ drives us on. That ‘good life’ is not the search for, or finding of, some perfect church or denomination; there is no such thing. Rather it is the good life hidden in Christ and the search for it is a challenge to the prevailing ideologies and fashions of our time.

What is the point of recalling or celebrating this Victorian Englishman whose intellectual rigour and moral consistency puzzles and attracts Anglicans and Roman Catholics alike? I suggest that the answer lies in the Gospel reading we have just heard. 

There was a man, Zacchaeus, who sought truth, beauty and love and found it in the person of Jesus. He had to seek it out from a height on a sycamore tree given his short stature. However, Zacchaeus had to go further by inviting Jesus into his home and completely letting go of his social and financial securities. The story seems to be telling us that Zacchaeus sought out, found and committed his life to Jesus. However, reading and hearing the text at a deeper level opens up to us a different and much deeper truth. Zacchaeus was searching for something long before he set eyes on Jesus. God in Jesus saw Zacchaeus long before Zacchaeus saw Jesus. God sowed in the heart of Zacchaeus a longing and a curiosity for something more than the accumulation of wealth and worldly status. It reminds us of what Jesus said, in answer to the question of Nathanael, ‘How do you know me?’ (John 1:48):
 “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Climbing that tree took courage. Behold the spectacle of a great and despised public sinner perched on a common tree seeking to catch the eye of a great prophet and healer. We might conjecture that Zacchaeus struggled with himself over a period of time before he summoned the courage to go out and climb the sycamore tree. There was much at stake for him since he was, after all, the chief tax collector. He surely would lose not only wealth but a whole network of friends and possibly family too. 

It often happens that after a long period of struggle comes a time of sudden decision. This happened in a moment when Jesus’ eyes met Zacchaeus’ eyes. What was the immediate fruit of this very decisive step on the part of Zacchaeus? It was the gift of joy and peace. This is the sign that we are on the right path when we decide for Christ in our lives.

Luke tells us that Zacchaeus ‘hurried down and was happy to welcome him’ (v.6 in the NRSVA version).  I prefer the King James version on this one:
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
When was the last time one of us received someone – anyone – with the fullness of joy?! Blessings on the one who receives with joy because true and godly joy will convert the world, melt hearts and pave the way for the coming of God’s kingdom in our time and in this place.
Our journey involves a trust because no more than Newman or Zacchaeus we do not see what lies ahead.
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.
(from ‘Lead Kindly Light’ by St JH Newman)


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A PRAYERFUL WALK THROUGH LUKE 19:1-10

Chapter 19 opens with a story about a rich publican. It builds on the parables and stories of previous chapters in Luke. Already, Jesus had passed by a blind man on his way to Jericho. He too was healed. Characteristically, it expresses the joy and freedom of conversion. Jesus came with a radical message that associated him with outcasts, the poor, the despised and sinners. 

v.1-2   Zacchaeus – who was he
He entered Jericho and was passing through it.  A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. 
Rich, powerful and despised, Zacchaeus was the sort that attracted the hatred and resentment of many. He lived off others by extortion and pressure. Jericho was a place renowned for the Balsam trade in the 1st century. It is likely that Zacchaeus was benefiting from a particularly lucrative trade in extracting taxes from a hard-pressed local population.

v.3   He sought Jesus but was not able to see him at first
He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 
Zacchaeus was vertically challenged. However, he was keen to see Jesus. He had heard much about him. He was probably drawn to his teaching and influence. Jesus had enkindled something in the soul of Zacchaeus.

v.4   He places himself in the way
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 
It was enough that Zacchaeus placed himself in a way that Jesus would see him.
The tree referred to here was possibly not quite a fig tree but a sycamore tree except not like the European one with which we so familiar. Rev Patrick Comerford points out that the tree referred to this Gospel passages is the ‘sycamine tree, which has the shape and leaves of a mulberry tree but with fruit that tastes like the fig’ (CME blog Limerick and Killaloe).

v.5-6   Jesus invites himself in
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’  So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 
Jesus calls him by name. He knew what was in the heart and mind of Zacchaeus that day. Jesus also presents himself at our door (Revelation 3:20). Are we ready to hear and to open?

v.7   The judgment of the crowd
All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ 
Tax collectors were seen as dishonest and extortionate go-between people who did the dirty work of the Roman authorities and, at the same time, made lots of money out of their occupation by cheating and driving a large margin between income received and money paid into central coffers. Again and again throughout the gospels, Jesus is taken to task for eating and drinking with the ‘wrong sort of people’.

v.8   The moment of surrender
Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ 
In typical Lucan fashion, the story of conversion is about the kingdom of God breaking out with freedom for the poor.  Zacchaeus was serious and showed it by divesting himself of much of his considerable wealth. Note, however, that Zacchaeus goes much further than what was prescribed in the Law in the cases of non-violent crime (see, for example, Numbers 5:5-7). He undertakes to pay back four times the amount defrauded which would have been the worst penalty (Exodus 22:1).

v.9-10   All are in need of salvation
Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’
Jesus came to seek and save all – not just the poor. Even the rich can be set free. In this case, the rich can be set free from attachment to riches. This particular son of Abraham was set free. Today all are invited in. Note that salvation had not only come to the individual, Zacchaeus; it came to his entire household. Salvation is both individual and corporate. Luke presents Jesus as the Pastor who will seek out, heal and restore those who are lost (see also Ezechiel 34:16).

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Not to lose heart


“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. “ (Luke 18:1)





Luke 18:1-8   (Year C: The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity / 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 20th October, 2019)

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AN OVERVIEW OF THIS SUNDAY’S READINGS
COI
RC

There are no parallel Gospel readings to the above passage from Luke.

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SERMON NOTES (1,233 words)

Praying – what is the point?
Why do we pray? Christians are accustomed to praying for the world, the church and others. Here in Ireland we have been accustomed to prayers for diverse subjects ranging from peace, social justice, action to address climate change and, of course, Brexit. Does God ever listen? And what is the point of praying if God is all knowing and all powerful?

A natural thirst
These days, praying is rarely if ever listed under ‘hobbies and activities’ at the bottom of someone’s CV. Yoga, meditation or something similar might very well feature. Somehow praying, going to Church and related matters is spoken about as a very ‘private’ matter and, in many cases, not something to be flaunted or, worse still, pushed upon others. Yet, the periodic special novenas and similar events attract huge numbers in various parts of this country. Young and old (although in all likelihood proportionately more of the latter) soak in the atmosphere, togetherness, sacredness, humaness and comfort from pouring out one’s soul with others or, indeed, to another in the context of spiritual friendship or sacramental reconciliation (‘confession’). Old habits die hard and even when new forms of spirituality arise along with re-discoveries of ancient wisdom from the East many people still cling to the traditional and the familiar especially (but not exclusively) at times of personal or community crisis.

The story of the widow and the ‘unjust’ judge found in the gospel of Luke reminds us that human need pushes many to ask and to ask again.  Luke inserts an explanation as he recounts the story from Jesus:

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.(V.1)
Losing heart can happen at any time in life as we struggle with various challenges. To keep heart even through the most difficult of times is a blessing. It is possible. Temperament, upbringing and circumstances outside our control can have a major impact on our behaviour and thinking. However, we also have freedom and choice to modify our outlook and actions. By feeding on positive thoughts we can, with God’s help, move into a space where we keep going, keep hoping, keep trying and staying of good heart.

Prayer, or should I say prayerfulness, is key to this.  Prayer is the means by which we can rest our cares with Another and, at the same time, find the courage and strength to keep going on.  Prayer is more than persistent asking and begging as the widow in today’s story adopted. She did not give up on the first refusal. We, too, can keep asking for that grace, that peace, that strength to deal with a difficult situation. The ‘Serenity Prayer’ is well known to many:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
The evangelist, Luke, is strong in his emphasis on prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit. In relation to prayer there are many, many references including those in the following specially composed list (courtesy of Lectio Divina – Order of Carmelites)

Lk 2:46-50: When he is twelve, he goes to the Temple, his Father’s house
Lk 3:21: He prays at his baptism and when he takes on his mission
Lk 4:1-2: At the beginning of his mission he spends forty days in the desert
Lk 4:3-12: When he is tempted, he faces the devil with texts from Scripture
Lk 4:16: On Saturdays, Jesus goes to celebrate in the synagogue
Lk 5:16; 9:18: He seeks solitude in the desert to pray
Lk 6:12: He spends the night in prayer before choosing the Apostles
Lk 9:16; 24:30: He prays before meals
Lk 9:18: He prays before speaking of his passion
Lk 9:28: In a crisis, on the Mountain to pray, he is transfigured during prayer
Lk 10:21: When the Gospel is revealed to little ones he says: “Thank you, Father...”
Lk 11:1: As he prays, he inspires the apostles the desire to pray
Lk 22:32: He prays for Peter, that he may have faith
Lk 22:7-14: He celebrates the Paschal meal with his disciples
Lk 22:41-42: He prays and sweats blood in the Garden of Olives
Lk 22:40-46: In his agony, he asks his friends to pray with him
Lk 23:34: When he was being nailed to the cross, he asks pardon for his torturers
Lk 23:46; Ps 31:6: At the moment of death he says: “Into your hands I commend my spirit”
Lk 23:46: Jesus dies with the cry of the poor on his lips

And if that is not enough consider the list at the end of this blog (without the hyperlinks) from Acts. The Acts of Apostles is thought to have been written by Luke.
Jesus is presented in Luke at prayer sometimes alone but often with others and for others.  Prayer is the oxygen by which he lives in communion with his Father. At the heart of this is the Holy Spirit – that love which circulates between Father and Son and spills out into the world continually seeking to bring all things and all peoples into communion.

A practical guide
We do well to pray often and especially early and late each day since prayer is the bolt of the night and the key to the day. It might be best for us to seek out a regular quiet place and time each day alone or with others. Perhaps a sentence or two of scripture might suffice to feed our minds and hearts for 5 or 10 minutes at first (and a bit more if possible).
No analysis.
No commentary.
No busy ‘chatting’.
Just relax there for a while in silence slowly letting the words gently still your heart and mind (some Christians find it useful to use a lit candle, or open book of scriptures, or gazed at an icon or the reserved sacrament of the sick since we are all in need of healing in some way). It might be that a spontaneous prayer of praise or thanksgiving or request rises up. We should neither force anything or resist anything. We may discern the Holy Spirit at work and we ought not be afraid to share some of this experience with a wise and trusted ‘soul-friend’ – when appropriate. This spells the potential for growth – human and sacred – because we are sacred and precious just like that widow who never lost persistence. We can take this very Ignatian line to heart:
pray as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you …
If we sense the presence of God ‘where two or three are gathered’ whether that be in a pub, a church, a kitchen, a factory or the village green then we are already at the threshold of prayerfulness.  Life is a flow of action and prayerfulness and our times of specially dedicated prayer are all the richer and fruitful for that no matter how we might feel at the time. The way ahead may be unclear and frightening but fortified with a mustard seed of faith, the discipline of quiet prayer and a word of scripture we can face each day with courage and love.  And Love will find faith on the earth (verse 8). We need go no further than our very own hearts. That is where prayer begins.

Postscript
References to prayer in the Acts of the Apostles
Act 1:14: The community perseveres in prayer with Mary, the mother of Jesus
Act 1:24: The community prays so as to know who will take the place of Judas
Act 2:25-35: Peter quotes from the Psalms in his homily
Act 2:42: The first Christians are faithful in prayer
Act 2:46-47: They go to the temple to praise God
Act 3:1: Peter and John go to the temple to pray at the ninth hour
Act 3:8: The healed lame man praises God
Act 4:23-31: The community prays under persecution
Act 5:12: The first Christians stay at Solomon’s gate (temple)
Act 6:4: The apostles devote themselves to prayer and the service of the word
Act 6:6: They pray before imposing hands on the deacons
Act 7:59: When he is dying, Stephen prays: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”
Act 7:60: Then Stephen prays: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”
Act 8:15: Peter and John pray that the converts may receive the Holy Spirit
Act 8:22: The sinner is told: Repent and pray that you may be forgiven
Act 8:24: Simon says: “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves so that none of the things you have spoken about may happen to me”
Act 9:11: Paul is praying
Act 9:40: Peter prays for the healing of Tabitha
Act 10:2: Cornelius prayed constantly to God
Act 10:4: Cornelius’ prayers are heard in heaven
Act 10:9: At the sixth hour, Peter prays on the roof of the house
Act 10:30-31: Cornelius prays at the ninth hour, and his prayer is heard
Act 11:5: Peter tells the people of Jerusalem: “I was praying”!
Act 12:5: The community prays when Peter is in jail
Act 12:12: Many people are gathered in prayer in Mary’s house
Act 13:2-3: The community prays and fasts before sending Paul and Barnabas
Act 13:48: The pagans rejoice and glorify the Word of God
Act 14:23: The missionaries pray to appoint the coordinators of the communities
Act 16:13: At Philippi, near the river, there is a place of prayer
Act 16:16: Paul and Silas were going to prayer
Act 16:25: At night, Paul and Silas sing and pray in prison
Act 18:9: Paul has a vision of the Lord at night
Act 19:18: Many confess their sins
Act 20:7: They met to break bread (the Eucharist)
Act 20:32: Paul commends to God the coordinators of the communities
Act 20:36: Paul prays on his knees with the coordinators of the communities
Act 21:5: They kneel on the shore to pray
Act 21:14: Before the inevitable, the people say: God’s will be done!
Act 21:20: They glorify God for all that Paul has done
Act 21:26: Paul goes to the temple to fulfil a promise
Act 22:17-21: Paul prays in the temple, he has a vision and speaks with God
Act 23:11: In the prison in Jerusalem, Paul has a vision of Jesus
Act 27:23ff: Paul has a vision of Jesus during the storm at sea
Act 27:35: Paul takes the bread, gives thanks to God before arriving in Malta
Act 28:8: Paul prays over Publius’ father who had a fever
Act 28:15: Paul gives thanks to God on seeing the brethren in Pozzuoli