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THE MODEL OF ALL PRAYER

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Jonah 4:1-11 & Luke 11: 1-4

If we want to know how to pray we need look only to Jesus Who gave us the model of all prayer when He taught us the Our Father. In this He teaches us to get our priorities correct. Firstly, we must be concerned with God, honouring His name, willing His Kingdom to come and doing His will. Then, we are to be concerned about our needs, our daily bread, forgiveness of our sins and deliverance from all evil and strength in the face of temptation.

Have you ever considered how beautifully Jesus has put together the second half of the Our Father? When we think of bread we think of God the Father who provides for us. When we think of forgiveness of sins, we think of Jesus who died to save us from our sins. When we think of help in time of temptation we think of the Holy Spirit who is there to help us.

Again when we think of bread we think of the present time. When the think of forgiveness, we think of the past. When we think of help in time of temptation we think of the future. Jesus has taught us to bring the whole of time - past, present and future - before the whole of the throne of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that only God could have given us a prayer like that; we should thank Jesus for teaching us to pray it.

What is today's first reading all about? Jonah was not a happy man. He asked God to take his life because he did not want to be associated with a God who showed mercy to a people he hated. Can you believe it? He sought death because his preaching had been successful!

So God used the caster-oil shady plant to teach Jonah a lesson. Jonah made himself a shelter to see what would happen to the city. God had every right to be angry with Jonah. But no, He made a caster-oil plant to shade his head and soothe Jonah’s anger. This pleased Jonah. Then God made the plant wither and Jonah’s shelter was gone. He even sent a scorching east wind and the sun to bring discomfort to him. This was to indicate that to Jonah that God could do as He pleased. Jonah had to learn that God is sovereign Lord of all Creation; He has the right to deal with anyone He chooses, even the 120,000 people of Nineveh. Truly, our humanity can in no way limit God’s generosity and transcendence!

The message certainly has practical implications for us today. We need to let God expand our minds and broaden our outlook in order that we may see that God loves all His people. Too often we are bound by our own prejudices. We want to share the good news in a very narrow kind of way – only with the people with whom we feel comfortable. Yet God wants His message to go to everyone – non-Christians as well as Christians, sinners as well as saved.

Heavenly Father, You are a God of mercy and compassion, Who wants all people to know your power and your love. Break down in us any prejudices that could prevent us from sharing the Gospel with others.

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