Saturday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time Year 2
(Ez 43:1-7; Mt 23:1-12)
A story was told about a student applied for work at Standford University. One Friday morning, an eager young student at Stanford Univesity stood before Louis Janin. He was seeking part-time employment from Janin, who informed him, “All I need right now is a stenographer.” “Fine,” the young man said eagerly, “I’ll take the job.” Then he added, “But I can’t come back until Tuesday.” Janin agreed and the next Tuesday, the young man reported for work as scheduled. Janin asked him, “Why is it that you couldn’t come back before Tuesday?” The young man replied, “Because I had to rent a typewriter and learn how to use it.” This zealous new typist was Herbert Hoover, whose can-get-it attitude eventually led him through the doors of the White House. (taken from God’s Little Devotional Book for Leaders, p.200-201) Skills have to be learned and shared. There will be no good skill that will be futile but all gifts are used for the good of the community and for the good of the individual. God endows gifts for one to be happy and to be fulfilled in one’s life. How much more for one who errs and fails in life or in faith, God gives chances may be the second or the third. As Herbert Hoover made his way to the White House, the Israelites were also given chances to renew and repent of their sins and be led toward their homeland. The Prophet Ezekiel in the first reading today, reminds the Israelites of their going back home to Israel but they had to rededicate themselves and the Temple for the Lord. Learning to be humble and dependent of the Lord may lead one back home. How will we be going back home? Prayer is one of the paths towards home. Let us look into the readings today how they illustrate the value of prayer.
1. Place of Prayer- Prayer calls forth a specific place so that the inward direction of prayer be more accomplished. Places are important aspects of prayer. The church and the altar are places where God meets His people. The word “church” or “kuriakon” also refers to the dwelling place of the Lord where man has to come and meet the Lord. God wants to speak, encounter, see, and be with his people in a specific place-in the time of the Prophet Ezekiel it was the Temple. However, during that time, the prophet experienced the Israelites in Exile in Babylon in the 6th century BC where he prophesied the destruction of the Temple and the rebuilding or rededication of it. Ezekiel, who was in exile in 597 BC, had prophesied that God will purify them and the Israelites will be able to gain back the heart and favor of the Lord. In the previous readings, we were told that the prophet said “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.” (Ez 36:25) Coming back to the Temple of the Lord and worshipping the true God and no longer pagan idols would be the solid proof of their conversion. The Temple as the place where God meets his people would be the designated place where the people manifest their fidelity to the Lord. The prophet illustrated that it is in God’s house shall we hear his voice and see vision of God. In other words, it is in the Temple of the Lord shall one witness the revelation of God.
2. Direction of Prayer-God is always the direction of prayer. Man lifts his minds and hearts to God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” (CCC 2559) Jesus clarifies this by saying “Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.” Indeed, we do not call anyone here on earth “Father” when it is directed toward praise and worship. Jesus desired to maintain the worship of the One God though revealed in three divine persons. Besides, Jesus wanted that we constantly call God as “Father” and not anyone here on earth to be called by that name in the context of prayer. He clarified that when He taught His disciples to pray saying “Our Father, who art in Heaven...” Thus, when we prayer we constantly direct our prayer to God. It was St. Teresa of Avila who said “prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.”
3. Content of Prayer- Prayer brings in itself the power and capacity to change one’s life. No prayer can be sincere enough and significantly effective without considering the value of conversion and inner transformation it brings. Prayer makes a person inclined to action and become effective witnesses of the Gospel as well as effective evangelizers in a purity of heart and intention. Pope Francis said “for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty.” (Evangelii Gaudium 259) Prayer carries in itself the capacity to be dependent on God and become His servant. Jesus said “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” A prayerful person carries in himself also the capacity to seek good for others. Prayer is altruistic in nature; it searches to intercede for others. Prayer is not an activity that creates self-centered person but it is an undertaking that leads to prayer for others in their need. It is also a venue where one can be grateful for others. Once we develop the attitude of remembering others in their need in the context of prayer, Pope Francis continued to say “This attitude becomes a prayer of gratitude to God for others. “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you” (Rom 1:8). It is constant thankfulness: “I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:4); “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Phil 1:3).
Who should promote vocation to the Priesthood?
“The duty of fostering vocations pertains to the whole Christian community, which should exercise it above all by a fully Christian life. The principal contributors to this are the families which, animated by the spirit of faith and love and by the sense of duty, become a kind of initial seminary, and the parishes in whose rich life the young people take part.”
(Optatam Totius 2)