More Thoughts on Prayer
(28th Ordinary Sunday: Wisdom 7:7-11; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30)
Very often in these reflections we allude to Mary’s question, “Do you say your prayers well, my children?” She concluded this part of her discourse with, “When you have time, say more.” But prayer is not just words.
We all know how important communication is. Human relationships cannot long survive without it. It includes speech and body language. It contains information, concern, questions, requests, etc. All of these are part of the La Salette event.
Communication with God is essential to the Christian life. It allows us to ask for what we need, and to open ourselves to the gifts he wishes to give us. “Do you say your prayers well?” is another way of asking, “Are you willing to let God transform your heart?” Reciting prayers is a good thing, of course; they bring us into the Lord’s presence and set the stage for his action.
The author of the Book of Wisdom understood this. “I prayed, and prudence was given me.” Prudence, according to Catechism of the Catholic Church, is more than being careful. It is “the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.”
So, we cannot exercise prudence without wanting to know God’s will, and to obey it. We ought to prefer it over gold, precious gems, health and or beauty.
Which brings us to the Gospel and the rich man who came to Jesus with a prayer in the form of a question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered with a question of his own, and was so pleased with the man’s response that Mark tells us, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
‘You are lacking in one thing.’”
Putting ourselves in the man’s place, what one thing is lacking? When we enter into prayer and learn to pray well, God is indeed there and can penetrate our hearts with his “living and effective” word (second reading). The man “went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Will we do the same, for other reasons?
In prayer we are not alone. Our Weeping Mother intercedes powerfully for us. Let us be thankful, too, that Jesus looks at us and loves us and directs us as to what we need to do to follow him.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse