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Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scriptural Readings: Sirach 48:1-14; Psalms 97:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7; Matthew 6:7-15

My dear encountered couples:

According to the Liturgical Calendar we are in the season of ‘Ordinary Time’. However, there is nothing ordinary about these times. We are in the midst of a pandemic of Coronavirus, COVID-19. Hundreds of thousands around the world have the disease and hundreds of thousands have died from it. People have been cautioned to wear face masks when leaving their homes – otherwise stay at home.

Just recently, many of our larger cities have been experiencing protests, some have turned violent: destruction of property, rioting, shootings and death. In these times of social, political and racial unrest there is much need for dialogue and … prayer.

In today’s gospel Jesus instructs his disciples how to pray. “In your prayer do not rattle on like the pagans. They think they will win a hearing by the sheer multiplication of words.” Does that mean we should make our prayers short and sweet and get on with our lives? How about the holy hours some people are in the custom of making? Are they contrary to what Jesus is saying?

Again, like with sometimes our works of charity and praying are to be in public, other times in secret (cf. yesterday), our praying is also sometimes to be short, other times long. Let us remember the time Jesus told a parable about the necessity of praying always and not losing heart (Lk,18: l), and the time we find him spending a whole night in prayer (Lk. 6:12). What are you and I to do? Limit the time we pray or pray all night? Say a lot of words or keep them to a minimum? How to walk in the footsteps of Christ is not mapped out as clearly as we would like it to be, is it?

The important thing is not the amount of words we say, nor the length of time we spend at praying, it is the frequency and the love we put into it that counts. Quantity does not equal quality. We don’t need to turn to God only when we need something, you know, or with a prepared text. All we have to do is look his way and say from our hearts, “Father, I thank you,” “Jesus, I love you.”

Jesus and our Father dwell among us. What do I need to get through today? How am I encountering Jesus and his Father in my life today? How and what was I fed? Where and how was I protected from evil and harm? Where and how was I aware of a loving presence surrounding and protecting me. These are not ordinary times, but we have an extra-ordinary prayer and we are living in the extra-ordinary compassion, love and abiding presence of Jesus and his Father, “Our Father.”

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