THURSDAY HOMILY: Ask, Knock, Seek and Persist. Prayer is a Path to Freedom
We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death, like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living
Through prayer, we are drawn by Love into a deepening relationship with Jesus whose loving embrace on the hill of Golgotha bridged heaven with earth; His relationship with His Father is opened to us; the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead begins to give us new life as we are converted, transfigured and made new. Through prayer, heavenly wisdom is planted in the field of our hearts and we experience a deepening communion with the Trinitarian God. We begin to experience the mystery and meaning in those words of the Apostle and actually become partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - Today's Gospel passage at Mass is from the account of one of the teachings the Lord gave to his disciples concerning prayer in the Gospel of St. Matthew:
"Jesus said to his disciples: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
"Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread - or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets." (Matt 7:7-12)
St. Luke's account of this teaching follows after the disciples find Jesus in prayerful communion with His Father. In His Sacred humanity, Jesus shows them the way of life into which they will be initiated through His gift on Golgotha's Hill and His defeat of death through the empty tomb. Luke adds an additional parable to communicate to us that prayer often involves persistence.
"And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him,`Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, `Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'?" I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. "
"And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks, receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:5-13)
Prayer leads us into a life of communion. It is our fuel, the wind in our sails. We who are baptized into Jesus Christ are to live our lives in Him, by living them in His Body, the Church, of which we are members. (1 Cor. 12:27) This call to live in Him engages our freedom and invites our continual response to His grace.
The intimate communion the disciples witnessed when they came upon Jesus in prayer can become our experience. We are adopted sons and daughters of "His Father and Our Father". (John 20:17). The ongoing instruction which they received as they walked with Him daily can become ours when we walk with Him daily.
The Jesus who instructed them in these accounts is alive with us. He has been raised from the dead. We need the eyes of faith to see Him and the courage to accompany Him on the way. Through Jesus we are made capable of living an entirely new way of life. In the words of the Apostle Peter, we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1).
It is by learning to live in the communion of the Church that we come to receive this divine life. It is mediated through the Sacraments. It forms us through the Word of God and the wisdom of the teaching office of the Church. It recreates us into the Image and likeness of God fully revealed in Jesus Christ.
God created us in His Image for a loving, relational conversation of life with Him. Understanding what it meant to be created in His Image, and then to fall, requires us to reflect upon human freedom. The Catechism reminds us that "In man, true freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the divine image. (CCC #1712). Our capacity to choose what is true and good was fractured as a result of sin.
The Catechism explains the consequence, "Man, having been wounded in his nature by original sin, is subject to error and inclined to evil in exercising his freedom" and the remedy, " He who believes in Christ has new life in the Holy Spirit. The moral life, increased and brought to maturity in grace, is to reach its fulfillment in the glory of heaven." (CCC #1714, 1715)
Our relationship with God was broken by original sin. It was a misuse of freedom. Freedom was corroded and corrupted by pride and self sufficiency. Our ability to exercise our freedom by directing our capacity for free choice always toward the good was impeded because of the fall.
"Man, enticed by the Evil One, abused his freedom at the very beginning of history. He succumbed to temptation and did what was evil. He still desires the good, but his nature bears the wound of original sin. He is now inclined to evil and ...
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