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THE MODEL OF ALL PRAYER

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

Gal. 2:1-2, 7-14 & Luke 11: 1-4

One of the most interesting things about studying the New Testament is comparing different writings that describe the same events. It should not surprise us that these writings do not always agree. Even though these scriptures were inspired by God, different authors often saw things in a different light or from a distinctive perspective. A careful comparison of the Gospel accounts of the life and teachings of Christ show that the Gospels are not in total agreement. Similarly, St. Paul's own account of his conversion and missionary outreach to the Gentiles does not always agree with St. Luke's description of these same events in the Acts of the Apostles. But these differences are what you would expect of real people recalling and writing about real events. Each person had their own slant on things.

Today's reading from Paul's Letter to the Galatians is a case in point. The Acts of the Apostles implies that Paul's several missionary journeys were whirlwind tours of the Roman Empire that led to the establishment of Christian churches wherever he went and preached. But Paul reminds us in these words from his Letter to the Galatians that he was involved in missionary outreach to Gentiles for fourteen years before he met the acknowledged pillars of the church in Jerusalem. Reading Paul’s own account, we suddenly realise that the Roman Empire was not Christianised in a matter of weeks or even years. Paul took fourteen years merely to introduce the Gospel to the Gentiles and another 250 years would pass before the Roman Emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity. Today’s lesson is clear – God always takes time.

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.

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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