Day 317: Persistence in prayer

Luke 11:1-4 Teach us to pray: In response to this request, Christ gave us the “Lord’s Prayer,” also known as the Our Father. This prayer invites us to call God “Our Father” and to reflect on the divine filiation that we enjoy by reason of our Baptism. The use of the first person plural stresses that this is a communal prayer of the Family of God, the Church, as well as the communion that exists among all  of her members. It centers our prayer on the adoration of God and on his kingdom and then petitions him for what we need in order to receive and collaborate with that kingdom. Finally, it links our forgiveness from God to our forgiveness of our neighbor. It remains a fundamental prayer of all Christians and is recited in the public worship of the Church, including at every Mass. Tertullian wrote that the Lord’s Prayer “is truly the summary of the whole gospel” (De orat., 1: PL 1, 1155). (CCC 520, 1425, 2601, 2632, 2759-2865)

Ch 11:3 Daily bread: The Church teaches that this refers to both bread for bodily nourishment and the bread of life, i.e., the Eucharist. (CCC 2861)

 Ch 11:5-13 Christ followed up the instruction on the Lord’s Prayer with a lesson on the need to persist and persevere in prayer. If a friend who is hesitant to fulfill a request will do so because of our persistence, how much more so will a father give what his son asks as long as it is for his good? Because of our status as adopted sons and daughters of God, he will grant us what we need and the confidence to expect it will be fulfilled. (CCC 728, 2613, 2623, 2671, 2761)

Ch 11:14-28 Accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan, Christ gave a response that would make it obvious from whom his power came. He also taught that it is not enough to be free from sin and demonic influence; we must also seek a life of holiness, allowing ourselves to be filled with Christ. (CCC 385)

Ch 11:20 Kingdom of God: This is not an earthly kingdom but rather a spiritual one, reigning in the souls of Christ’s followers, which is made present through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Finger of God: The term indicates the direct act or authority of God, and it is used three times in the Old Testament to indicate that God himself wrote the moral law (cf. Ex 8:19, 331:18; Dt 9:10). It also refers to the work of the Holy Spirit. A liturgical hymn during the Mass on Pentecost, Come, Holy Spirit, calls upon the Holy Spirit as the “finger of the Father’s right hand.” (CCC 700)

Ch 11:27-28 Mary was certainly blessed for her role in the Incarnation and Birth of the Son of God as well as for her role in rearing him. However, the high praise she received from her Son was for her complete fidelity in fulfilling God’s will. (CCC 484, 494, 511)

Ch 11:29-32 Performance of miracles requires faith. While Christ performed miracles for those who had faith, he refused to humor the skeptics and critics who simply challenged him for a “sign.” The “sign of Jonah” refers to his own Death and Resurrection. Just as Jonah spent three days in the whale before being washed up on the shores of Nineveh (cf Jon 3:1-5), so would Christ spend three days in the tomb before rising again. The “queen of the south” is the queen of Sheba, a Gentile who came to Solomon and was impressed by his wisdom (cf. 1 Kgs 10:1-13). Both the Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba would serve as an example of the faith that Christ expected from his own people. (CCC 1151)

Ch 11:33-36 Christ compared clarity of sight to clarity of discernment. In his day, it was commonly believed that we see because of a light source within our eye that illuminates our path. Just as healthy eyes enable us to see well, a life of purity enables us to see God, while sin and immorality blinds us to the beauty of faith and selfless service to others. By orienting ourselves to the will of God, we can begin to more clearly discern the truth. (CCC 2846-2847, 2863)

Ch 11:37-54 Christ came to perfect the Old Law, not to abolish it. While the Law was good, its practice and interpretation had become removed from its original intent. The perfection of the Law requires it to be put to the service of charity towards God and neighbor, and its practice requires the grace of God. Because of these teachings, Christ’s enemies sought to discredit him in the eyes of the people. (CCC 579, 588)

Ch 11:38 Did not first wash...cleanse the outside: The kind of hand washing discussed here was not the hygienic hand washing prior to meals but the more elaborate ritual of hand washing that had become an exterior act devoid of spiritual meaning. (CCC 1968)

Ch 11:42 Tithe: Pharisees gave one-tenth of their income and crops to the Temple. The fifth precept of the Church is to “provide for the needs of the Church” (CCC 2043). (CCC 1836, 2447)

Ch 11:52 Key of knowledge: The scribes and Pharisees explained the contents of Scripture to the people, placing their own interpretations on the Law. Their emphasis on exterior acts and rituals eclipsed interior love for God, the need for interior reform, and the love for neighbor. (CCC 2033)

Ch 12:1-12 In speaking about discipleship, Christ taught his followers to renounce all possessions in order to be totally committed to living the demands of the Gospel message. He also related that those who follow him would suffer persecution but could trust in the Holy Spirit to assist them and to teach them what to say when called upon to defend the Faith. Those who remain faithful will be rewarded both in this life and in Heaven. However, one who sins against the Holy Spirit, i.e., who commits final impenitence and rejection of God’s mercy and gift of salvation, cannot be saved because refusal of mercy is itself a choice to refuse salvation. (CCC 1287, 1864)

Ch 12:1 Beware of the leaven...hypocrisy: Christ taught that his disciples, unlike the Pharisees, must practice what they preach. Their example, for good or for bad, will permeate the community in the same way that leaven permeates dough. (CCC 854, 2832)

Ch 12:2-3 At the Last Judgment, all our thoughts and acts will be made known, and we will be judged accordingly. (CCC 678)

Ch 12:6-7 The Book of Genesis reveals a hierarchy in the created order of increasing perfection. If God watches over the least of his creatures, he will care all the more for human persons, who were given dominion over all other creatures and made in his image and likeness. (CCC 302-308, 342)

Ch 12:13-21 This parable teaches us that a life centered on greedy ambition and satisfaction is devoid of meaning. The fool is oblivious that his life will end, together with all his accumulated material possessions. A genuinely fruitful life involves charity toward others and detachment from material goods. (CCC 2407, 2727)

Ch 12:14 Who made me a judge or divider over you?: The central mission of Christ was to liberate humanity from the slavery of sin. He leaves the specific application of his teachings and the moral law to us. (CCC 549)

Ch 12:22-34 Our detachment from worldly goods should mean we have no anxiety about our basic necessities. If we do our part to secure basic needs, trust in God, and sincerely seek his will, we can be assured that he will provide everything that we need. The beauty of God’s creation is itself a testimony to his existence and providence. (CCC 305)

Ch 12:33 Sell your possessions, and give alms: Christ urged spiritual poverty, which includes detachment from material goods. Ridding ourselves of excess wealth and accumulation of material possessions as well as generous almsgiving is a requirement of discipleship. (CCC 2545)

Ch 12:35-48 Girding one’s loins (i.e., tucking the bottom of the tunic into the belt in order to free the legs for physical activity) and keeping the lamp burning were signs of preparedness and vigilance. Christ called his followers to maintain such vigilance at all times for no one knows when the end of life shall come. Each person has a specific calling that must be fulfilled diligently in this life with love and a spirit of service. The servant who presumes his master will not return home for a while and so fails to carry out his master’s wishes will be dealt with severely upon the master’s arrival. This means that a failure to live the Gospel will squander the chance for happiness both in this life and in the next. Those who remain prepared at all times will be amply rewarded when the master returns. (CCC 2730, 2849)

Ch 12:49-53 God offers us his love, mercy, and salvation and ardently desires that we accept and respond to these gifts. Although these gifts are offered freely and generously, not all are willing to receive them, and thus divisions will occur even within families-further evidence that Christ is a “sign of contradiction.” In Scripture, fire symbolizes God’s presence, his love, his judgment, divine purification, and the power of the Holy Spirit to effect change within us; in this passage, the word carries all of these meanings in various degrees. (CCC 696)

Ch 12:50 I have a baptism to be baptized with: Christ was anticipating his Passion and Death on the Cross, which he likened to a baptism. His firm desire to fulfill his Father’s will and plan of redemption inspired his entire earthly ministry with a sense of urgency as the time for his Crucifixion approached. (CCC 536, 607, 1225, 2804)

Ch 12:53 They will be divided: Following and serving Christ must come first in our order of priorities even over family relations and obligations. (CCC 229)

Ch 12:54-59 The faithless generation seeks miracles as proof of Christ’s identity but fails to perceive the lessons behind the signs already manifested. Rejection of the moral law and of Christ’s invitation to conversion leads to blindness and, at times, hatred towards the truth. An individual is morally culpable for willful disregard of the truth. (CCC 2088)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and thank you so much for this day. Thank you so much for the ability to be able to hear Jesus, your Word, speak words. Thank you for the teaching of Jesus. Thank you for his example. Thank you for his coming, as we prayed before, his coming to fight for us. But not only that his coming to teach us and give us this wisdom. Lord God, we ask you please be with us this day and help us to pray in the way that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Give us your Spirit so that we can talk to you and listen to you the way that you deserve and the way that gives you glory and a way that just transforms our hearts and our lives. We make this prayer in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”