St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Prayer as an answer to God -Homily March 9, 2014

It is Lent once again, a time to pray more, to pray more intensely, to pray better. I would like to say something helpful in this regard. I would like to speak about prayer as an answer to God who speaks to us first.

Sometimes we pray, but we don't know what to say. Sometimes our prayer doesn't seem to be heard. Sometimes we know what to say, but it doesn't seem to us that our prayer is a dialogue. Other times we pray, but we find that our prayer is only words, and it doesn't change our life.

Perhaps this has happened to you, to find a person who doesn't know how to listen. It is very difficult to talk with a person like this. With regard to prayer, we need to understand that God speaks, that he wants to speak, and we have to try to answer the best way we can.

To pray is not to speak, it is to think; it is to say words that we think. To pray is not to feel, it is to love; it is to be ready to love even in suffering, and when we don't feel well. To pray is to raise our thinking and our love to God. But God has thought us and has loved us before.


1 - God has loved us before because he created us. God has loved us before because he died for us on the cross. God has given me faith and grace in baptism, and he has called me to eternal life. If now I pray, it is because God thought of me before and he loved me. How do I answer to that love of God, manifested in the cross of Jesus?


2 - God speaks to me every day through the circumstances of my life. Each gift that I receive is a caress of God. Each suffering is also a blessing, because it allows me to have a great recompense in paradise. There is no paradise without passing first through the way of the cross. Each needy person I meet on my way is God himself who asks me for help. How do I answer to God?


3 - God speaks in the Holy Scriptures, in the Bible when I read it at home and particularly when the Word of God is read in the Church. Do I pay attention to the readings? Do I realize that God is speaking, and that he is speaking to me? What do the readings say to me? And how do I respond?

4 - God also speaks with actions, especially in the Eucharist. Because it is very easy to speak about love, but love is about actions, it is proved in the sacrifices that a person does for you. In the Eucharist, the very God surrenders himself to you with his body and his blood. He gives himself to you. What is our answer?


God speaks also in our heart, in our conscience, and in so many other forms. Now, let us consider our answer. Our prayer has to be an answer to God who has spoken to us first.


1 - The Sacred Scriptures say through Saint Paul: "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Col 3:2) Our Lord said "Seek the Kingdom of God first, and all the rest will be given to you as well." (Matt 6:33) This means that our prayer cannot be limited to request from God for the things of here below: more money, more health, etc. If we really listen what God says, we have to worry about the things of the spirit, and leave in his hands the things of the earth. We have to ask God to be better persons, to forgive more, to offend him less with our tongue and with our thoughts. These things are much more important.


When it seems to us that God is not listening to our prayer, we may ask ourselves: Is it not actually myself who does not want to listen what God is asking from me?

2 - God also tells us many things in the Sacred Scriptures. Do we do what he says? Here is a beautiful prayer: "O God, you have told me in the Gospel that I have to forgive, or that I have to be pure, or that I need to have more faith: I want to do it, my Lord, but help me, because I am weak." This is to pray! God speaks, you listen, you answer. I assure you that if we speak in this way, God will always answer to us.


3 - Finally, God speaks in the Eucharist. This is his most important word, his Word incarnate. God speaks by giving himself. The only possible answer is to give ourselves to Jesus. It is a self-giving of love. Not for a while, but forever. It is for this reason that the dialogue of the Eucharist does not finish in church. If you say Amen in communion, it means that you have given yourself to Jesus. And therefore, if your body belongs to Jesus, you cannot give it to sin. If your thoughts belong to Jesus, you cannot give them to hatred. If your words belong to Jesus, they cannot offend your neighbor. Dear friends, the one who prays well at Mass is the one who lives well outside the church. If we don't live well outside the church, it is because we can still grow in our prayer.

May the Lord teach us to pray. May he give us the grace of listening, of listening what he tells us, and of responding properly. May the Holy Virgin Mary help us and protects us always. Fr. Andrew