Homily: Really Pray the Our Father Today

It is called the most complete prayer ever. The Our Father is one we pray often. But how often do with really think about the words we are saying. Do we pray the Our Father thinking only of ourselves? Do we pray for God’s will to be done when we hold back from doing God’s will? Do we seek forgiveness without forgiving? Today we are given the time to really consider the prayer and what we are saying.

The temptations of Jesus help us

There is an interesting phrase in today’s gospel about the temptation of Jesus. Namely, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by Satan. Why? Why would the Spirit lead the Son into the desert? While the easy answer is that there must be a good reason if it is something the Spirit does, it still leaves a big question. Fortunately, Saint Thomas Aquinas answers it. He indicates four reasons it was fitting for Jesus to be tempted, and they are all for our benefit.

It’s the time to fast

Isaiah, often the mouthpiece for God, was a man of innovation. He challenged people to think in a new way about an old covenant. Today he takes the concept of fasting, and builds on the connection between fasting for God, and the attention service God’s people demands. Jesus is asked about why his disciples do not fast. He essentially says there is a right time for everything. Knowing how to respond to God by reading the signs of the times and the signs of our faith, now is the time to fast.

Who would choose a curse? You’d be surprised

Moses sets before the people today a blessing and a curse. It is hard to imagine that anyone would really choose a curse, but every time we sin we do. Why? How is it we can turn our back on God’s gift of life and choose the curse? Well, choosing life has consequences. Standing up for what is right and true can be hard, we can be persecuted for it. For this reason Jesus tells his disciples about his death, or warns his followers about self-denial and taking up a cross. Lent is a time where we are called to remember to take up a Cross so that we choose the blessing.

What do you desire? Sin or God?

The Buddhist religion starts out with four great truths. And among the big lesson is this: While life is suffering, the cause of the suffering is desire, and the person on the path to Nirvana should detach from what they desire. In today’s reading from James, the idea of coveting, or desiring what is not good for us. But unlike Buddhism, we believe there is a desire that is good for us: the desire for God.

The First time I really heard today’s gospel

I remember the first time I really heard today’s gospel. It was September 12, 2001. When I read the words of today’s gospel, the hair on my neck stood up. After the horrific events of September 11, I heard the words of Jesus in a way that cut me to the heart. ” “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.” And just when I thought I had been rattled enough, Jesus continues. “For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back.” And I realized on that day that it was too simple to think that Jesus didn’t really mean what he said. He did. In fact, he died for our sins. I know that I cannot live these words on my own. But I can try to be open to his grace. I can seek forgiveness. And I can seek a deeper relationship with him that even makes these hard words possible.

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