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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Sir 48:1-15): Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace. Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits. By the Lord's word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire. How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours? You brought a dead man back to life from the nether world, by the will of the Lord. You sent kings down to destruction, and easily broke their power into pieces. You brought down nobles, from their beds of sickness. You heard threats at Sinai, at Horeb avenging judgments. You anointed kings who should inflict vengeance, and a prophet as your successor.

You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses. You were destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the Lord, to turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob. Blessed is he who shall have seen you and who falls asleep in your friendship. For we live only in our life, but after death our name will not be such. O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind! Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit, wrought many marvels by his mere word. During his lifetime he feared no one, nor was any man able to intimidate his will. Nothing was beyond his power; beneath him flesh was brought back into life. In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds.
Responsorial Psalm: 96
R/. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The Lord is king; let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad. Clouds and darkness are round about him, justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.

Fire goes before him and consumes his foes round about. His lightings illumine the world; the earth sees and trembles.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his justice, and all peoples see his glory.

All who worship graven things are put to shame, who glory in the things of naught; all gods are prostrate before him.
Versicle before the Gospel (Rom 8:15): Alleluia. You have received a spirit of adoption as sons through which we cry: Abba! Father! Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 6:7-15): Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him”

Fr. Emili MARLÉS i Romeu (Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today the Lord wants to help us grow in a main issue of our Christian life: the prayer. He warns us not to pray like pagans trying to convince God about what they want. Many times we try to achieve what we want through insistence, being "annoying" to God, believing that we will be heard with our verbosity. The Lord reminds us that the Father is constantly solicitous of our life and that he knows what we need before we ask him at all times, (cf. Mt 6:8). Do we live with this kind of confidence? Am I aware that the Father is constantly washing my feet and that he knows better than anyone what I need at all times (in big things and small things)?

Jesus opens for us a new horizon of prayer: the prayer of those who address God with the conscience of being children. The type of relationship I have with a person is determined through the way I ask for things from that person and also what I can expect from him. From a father, and especially from the heavenly Father, I can expect everything and I know that he takes care of my life. For this reason, Jesus, who always lives as a true son, is telling you: "do not worry about your life, what you will eat and drink" (Mt 6:25). Do I really have this son’s consciousness? Am I addressing God with the same familiarity as I do with my father or mother?

Later, Jesus opens his heart to us, and teaches us what his relationship / prayer with the Father is like so that we also make it ours. With the "Our Father" prayer Jesus teaches us to live as children. Saint Cyprian has a well-known comment about the “Our Father”, telling us: “We must remember and know that, when we call God “Father”, we have to act as his children, in order for him to be pleased with us, as we are pleased to have him as Father.”

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “For since He says, that whatsoever we shall ask of the Father in His name, He will give us, how much more effectually do we obtain what we ask in Christ's name, if we ask for it in His own prayer!” (Saint Cyprian)

  • “The disciples, seduced by the person of Jesus while he was praying, ask him how to pray. The “Our Father” is the answer. It is a prayer concentrated in seven petitions, full of theological meaning, in contrast to the chatter and verbiage.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “‘The Lord's Prayer is truly the summary of the whole gospel’ (Tertullian). Since the Lord after handing over the practice of prayer, said elsewhere, 'Ask and you will receive,' and since everyone has petitions which are peculiar to his circumstances, the regular and appropriate prayer [the Lord's Prayer] is said first, as the foundation of further desires." (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 2761)

Other comments

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you”

+ Fr. Joan MARQUÉS i Suriñach (Vilamarí, Girona, Spain)

Today, Jesus proposes a great and difficult target: to forgive those who offend us. And He establishes a very reasonable measure, our measure: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Mt 6:14-15). In another place, He had already given us the Golden Rule of human coexistence: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets” (Mt 7:12).

We want God to forgive us and would like others to forgive us too; but, on the other hand, we seem quite reluctant to do it ourselves. To apologize is kind of difficult; but to forgive is even more so. Should we be humbler, it should not be so difficult; but our pride makes it much harder. This is why we could establish the following equation: the humbler, the easier; the prouder, the more difficult. This will give us a clue to find out our degree of humility.

When the Spanish Civil War was over (1939), some ex-captive priests were celebrating a thanksgiving mass in a small town, somewhere in Spain. The officiating priest, after saying the words of the Lord's Prayer “and forgive us our trespasses”, he remained speechless and was unable to go on. He could not drive himself to forgive those who had made them suffer so much in a hard labor camp, in that very same town. After a few moments of a most impressive silence, he went on with the prayer: “as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Afterwards, they asked themselves which homily had been the best one. And they all agreed: the silence of the officiating priest when he was saying the Lord’s Prayer. It is difficult, but with the Lord’s help it is possible.

Furthermore, God's forgiveness is total; it gets as far as oblivion. We tend to forget quickly the favors we receive, but not so much so with offenses... If married couples knew how to forget them, they would avoid, and probably overcome, many family dramas.

Let us hope the Mother of mercy helps us in understanding our fellow men and forgiving them totally.