Date: Sunday, July 24, 2022
It was early evening and I noticed flashes of light outside. My back yard was aglow with light from fireflies. I sat on edge of my bed enjoying the show, captivated by fireflies communicating with one another, signaling potential partners, searching for mates. On Tuesday July 12 NASA released the first images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope of the early universe. The telescope captures infrared light invisible to the human eye. We can see images of the birth of stars and the formation of galaxies. Like a firefly signaling at twilight, the early universe, far removed from us in space and time, is sending light signals to us revealing the mysteries of creation. Creation is wired for communicate.
From a Biblical point of view, creation is not a random, accidental happening, a cosmic role of dice with no meaning. Creation is intentional. In the Book of Genesis, in the creation story, when God creates the heavens and the earth, God says, “Let there be light.” In the Prologue of the Gospel according to John, the evangelist tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.” God’s Word creates. God’s Word communicates. We believe in God, our creator, who desires to make contact with us. Prayer is our conversation with God.
In our Gospel today, the disciples of Jesus, observing Jesus at prayer, make a request, “Lord teach us how to pray.” In response, Jesus gives them more than a set of words. He gives them an example and an invitation to have a share in his own loving relationship with his Father.
Faithful to his Jewish upbringing, Jesus instructs his disciple to have great respect and reverence for God’s name. “Hallowed be your name.” Jesus invites his disciples to call God, “Father.” The Our Father begins with an expression of affection and awe for God!
Jesus next acknowledges the sovereignty of God. “Your kingdom come.” Jesus has come not to do his own will but the will of the one who sent him. Near the end, in the garden, Jesus prays, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still not my will but yours be done.” Our prayer requests must always be in conformity to God’s plan.
In the Our Father, our requests are simple yet significant. “Give us each day our daily bread.” “Forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us.” “Do not subject us to the final test.” Thankful for God’s bounty, we pray for bread. Knowing God’s mercy, we pray for forgiveness as we forgive others. Worried about great tribulation, we pray for God’s protection and grace.
We often approach prayer as if we are trying to wring gifts from an unwilling God. Jesus assures us of God’s readiness to give good gifts to his children who ask especially the gift of the Holy Spirit. God knows are needs better than we know ourselves. Authentic prayer is not a formula or ritual to entice God but our humble response to God, loving Father, who cares for us.
Recently, I received a note from a couple associated with L’Arche – the international organization that builds homes together for/with low-income families and those for/with disabilities. Some of these families living in L’Arche constructed houses have opened their homes to refugees from Ukraine. L’Arche houses in Lviv and Ternopil, Ukraine, in Poland and Lithuania are networking together. ZOOM sessions show happy faces filled with Scripture, praise, petitions, and testimonies. Only some of the sessions are in English but it hardly matters when you hear people praying the Our Father in a dozen languages. The Our Father connects us with God and bonds us with our neighbor.