Jesus said, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.” Lk 11:1-4
If we look, only at the surface level, the outside layer of today’s readings,
we come to find that they all have to do with prayer . . .
– Jonah is praying in desperation that the Lord takes away his life,
– the psalmist is pleading for mercy,
– and the disciples, well the disciples are still lost at square one,
trying to figure out HOW to pray.
You see, prayer is extremely important to our Spiritual lives.
It is our communication, our link with God.
And as much as we sometimes might feel that God is not listening to us,
it’s more likely the case, that WE are not listening for His response.
So let’s go, just a little bit deeper, into those readings.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching His disciples the very basics of how to
communicate with God. It’s the old ACTS or A-C-T-S acronym.
Do you remember it?
A is for Adoration – we adore you O Lord and “Hallowed be Thy Name”
C is for Contrition – we are truly sorry Lord, so please “Forgive us our sins”
T is for Thanksgiving – in all things we give thanks because,
“Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done” and
S is for Supplication – asking for all the things we need,
we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
You see, the psalmist had it down pat when, in his Sorrow, he Adored, he gave Thanks, and he Asked for mercy! Now we might not be as poetic as the psalmist, but whenever our minds or our hearts get all twisted up into not knowing what to say to God, we’ll find that the Our Father covers it all – A.C.T.S.
And then there was Jonah. Jonah, if you pardon the pun, well, Jonah just missed the boat.
You see, yesterday the psalmist spoke about God marking iniquities. And even though God might mark iniquities, as He did with the city of Ninevah, He always gives the sinner many, many chances to repent, because of His great Love for all of us.
But when WE judge others with hatred or revenge in our hearts, we not only mark them, but we mark our own souls as well. And that’s exactly what happened to Jonah. Jonah knew that the Ninevites were not very good, and he himself judged them worthy of God’s punishment. And by marking their iniquities, Jonah marked his own soul as well.
Even though he knew that God is merciful and gracious, the iniquity that was planted in
Jonah’s soul grew into a huge vine that strangled his own heart and mind and manifested itself as anger, and depression, and hopelessness. So hopeless was Jonah, that he was ready to give up his own life for the sake of his selfish pride.
You see Jonah just kept missing the big picture –
that enormous love of God . . .
– The Love that saved him in the boat,
– the Love that saved him in the fish.
– and the Love that saved him from the evil Ninevites, he hated so much.
And even after all that Love, Jonah’s heart was so entangled in iniquity,
that he missed
– the prayers of Adoration,
– and the prayers of Contrition,
– and the prayers of Thanksgiving.
And all he could do – was complain!
You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, when all that exists in our lives, is complaint, then its time to seek out and eliminate the iniquity. It’s time to open up the bigger picture and discover the beautiful love and mercy and grace of God.
And when we can do that,
then we will truly be able to pray,
and we will hear God’s voice,
Loving us – in return.
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