Seventeenth Sunday: Prayer
“Teach us how to pray,” the disciples asked Jesus. This is the longing of our souls. We want to pray. We want to be with God.
Prayer is what we are about, not just here in Church but as people committed to Jesus Christ. We need to nurture our dialogue with him, our prayer Life. We come to Mass to pray the Lord’s Supper as a community and to reverence the Lord within us in communion. We call out to the Lord throughout our day whether it is simply grace before meals, or speaking to the Lord the three meditations: God loves me unconditionally, God forgives me and God is with me, or whether it is devotional prayers like the Rosary, or night prayer. Our days are meant to be united to God in prayer. Prayer expresses who we are, the People of God.
Recently, I came upon one of the invitations I sent out thirty-three years ago for my first Mass in my home parish, St. James in Totowa, NJ. At the bottom of the invitation I wrote, “Come and pray with me.” It seemed right at the time, but I look at that phrase now with a great deal of embarrassment. Now I would write, “Come and let us pray together.” Your prayers strengthen me. The union of our prayers intensifies the presence of God in our community.
We need each other for our prayer life to grow. We need each other so we can really celebrate God’s presence to such an extent that He becomes present on the altar through the gift of Holy Orders. Sometimes, I come upon people who say that they don’t attend Church, but they pray on their own. I think it is great that they are praying, but I also know that they are depriving themselves of the greatest prayer, the prayer of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper, on the Cross and at Easter. It is great that they are praying alone, but by refusing to join the community they are depriving themselves of the Eucharist.
Maybe we all need to reflect a bit about the mystery of the Eucharist. We go to communion so often that it is easy for us to forget what we are doing and whom we are receiving. When we receive communion, Jesus Christ comes inside of us. He is closer to us than our skin. When we receive communion, we worship Him within us with our whole being. All of us love Eucharistic Adoration. All of us love reverencing the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, when the Lord is exposed in the monstrance or processed around the congregation. Eucharistic adoration is wonderful. But there is something infinitely better than Eucharistic Adoration. That is receiving communion. No Eucharistic service is better than receiving communion. In a few moments and every time we receive communion we take Jesus within our selves. He is there at the Last Supper, looking at each person here and saying this is my body, this is my blood, take and eat, take and drink. When we receive communion Jesus is present on the cross saying, “My body is given up for you. My blood is yours. Even if you were the only person to ever live, I would still accept the cross for you. I want to be inside you. I want you to have my body and blood.” When we receive communion, Jesus is present within us at the Resurrection. This is the food of the new life of the Kingdom, the food of eternity, the bread of angels.
Jesus once told the story about a jewel merchant who came upon a valuable pearl. When he found it, he sold everything he had so he could possess it. We have the Pearl of Great Price offered to us every day. The Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Presence of the Living Lord at the Last Supper, on the Cross and at the Resurrection is within us whenever we receive communion.
“Teach us to pray, Lord,” the apostles asked. He taught them the Lord’s Prayer, and He gave us the Eucharist. I invite you today I challenge you today to enter into deep adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every time you receive communion.