June 18, 2015
by George Butterfield
Creighton University Law School Library
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 368

2 Corinthians 1:1-11
Psalm 111:1B-2, 3-4, 7-8
Matthew 6:7-15

Praying Ordinary Time

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons
through which we cry: Abba! Father!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

We are the children of God. Thus, we inherit all that belongs to our Father. Yet, because we are adopted children, we can have a tendency to think down deep in our souls that we really do not belong. So our Father gives us a Spirit of adoption, a Spirit that helps us to relate to our Father. As we mature in our faith, that Spirit brings us to greater and more profound simplicity. We grow up enough to relate to our Father as a child. We cry Abba, Papa, Dada. That Spirit gives us what we need to humbly approach our Father and then Jesus teaches us what to say in the Father’s presence.

There are times when we are so distraught that we have no words for our Father. We suffer in silence or we lament our condition. Perhaps we are angry with God and, like the prophet Jeremiah, wonder what our Father is doing or why he has done what he has done. Perhaps we are hurting so much that all we can do is groan within ourselves. In all of this the Spirit helps us and sometimes even talks to the Father for us when we cannot.

One thing Jesus makes very clear is that our Father loves us and knows what we need before we ask him. So, we should just ask him. We do not have to write a twenty page dissertation to convince our loving Father to hear our prayer. Pagans do that. We do not have to get God’s attention by an avalanche of words. His loving gaze is always upon us.

Another lesson from the prophets that I think Jesus would agree with is that we should be careful what we pray for. In the prayer Jesus teaches us, we pray “hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The prophet Habakkuk asked God to make his name holy and God did just that by sending a foreign army to subjugate the country. Habakkuk assured God that this was not what he had in mind. However, if you ask your Father to act, should you then tell him what he can and cannot do?

Jesus then teaches us to ask our Father for our daily bread. The Father certainly takes care of our physical needs but the bread Jesus mentions is the superabundant Bread of Life, the Eucharist. In this prayer we ask the Father to give us the flesh and blood of Jesus which our Lord assured us would give us eternal life. Asking a loving Father for life is what some might call a no-brainer; God breathed into us the breath of life in the beginning and he does not plan to stop now.

Finally, we ask our Father to do what all good fathers do, namely, to protect us from the Evil One and to forgive us when we go against his teachings. He assures us of his forgiveness but wants us to become like him. Thus, we are taught to forgive others. The Father wants us to treat others in the same way that he treats us.

We have received a Spirit of adoption. We are children of a kind and loving Father. Let us cry out to him, brothers and sisters. He longs to hear our voice.

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