Dear Parishioners and Friends,
I remember giving a homily on today’s Gospel some 20 or 30 years ago in another church in Connecticut where I used to celebrate Mass during the summer. I spoke about how, as I was growing up, I kept pestering my parents to buy me an organ. The first one was a small tabletop “organ” with three octaves of keys and a bunch of buttons on the left side that played chords. The next one was a Hammond spinet organ that they surprised me with for Christmas when I was a freshman in high school. A few years later, I was back in pestering mode for a larger Hammond. So in my homily, I said that if I had kept on going, perhaps I would have ended up with one like they had in their church, at which point the organist blasted out a huge C-Major chord on full organ!
I was tempted to use the same story in my homily this week, but I don’t want to risk giving anyone a heart attack. Instead, I’d like to reflect a little bit on how we are to pray, and what we are to pray for.
In the Gospel, Jesus is asked by his disciples how to pray. This wasn’t an unusual request, because many rabbis in the time of Jesus taught various methods of prayer. So, just as John the Baptist had taught his particular style, Jesus had his own. If we pull together snippets from the Gospels we find that Jesus liked to keep it simple, honest, and trusting. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells us to go to our room and pray in secret, and not to babble on like others who think that the shear multiplication of words will convince God to do our bidding.
But in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus shows us that we should be persistent and keep praying for what we need. He also seems to make a rather iron-clad promise that whatever we pray for we will be given, just like I hounded my parents for larger (and louder) organs when I was growing up! Jesus even gives an example of a father who is badgered by his neighbor to get up in the middle of the night and help feed his guests.
But the little parable ends with a somewhat surprising twist: “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Jesus doesn’t say that his Father will give you anything you ask for; rather, he promises to give the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the Holy Spirit will help us to discern what it is that we really need, not just what we want. This is a significant teaching because it reminds that the Father knows best what we truly need in our life, and sometimes the answer is not what we expect. It’s also interesting to note that, in Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, one petition is missing: “Your will be done.” But by opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit, we have the opportunity to come to know the Father’s will for each of us, and that is one powerful answer to any prayer!
A few weeks ago we received word that Fr. Dominique Regis, the Pastor of our Sister Parish of Ste. Geneviève in Haiti, received a new assignment as Principal in a diocesan school. Fr. Dominique sent me a message that I would like to share with you:
Dear friends of Saint Patrick and Saint Anthony Parish,
June 24, 2018 – July 10, 2022, it has been exactly 4 years since I have been on a mission at the Parish of Sainte Geneviève at Zoranje. During these 4 years I really liked the way you collaborated with me for the well-being of the parishioners at Zoranje. Congratulations and thank you for this testimony of friendship and solidarity that you have helped us to live. Thank you especially for the sacrifices you have made for the students of the community. I encourage you to continue to support the parish, especially the students, through your works of solidarity.
Finally, I thank God for having given me to have you as collaborators. I ask him to shower you with his blessings. May he watch over each of you always and everywhere!Fr Dominique Regis
As part of our ongoing commitment to the people of Ste. Geneviève, especially the students and their families, we are beginning our “Christmas in July” effort this weekend to increase our financial support, particularly for the students’ hot lunch program and to increase the salaries of the dedicated teachers. A Giving Tree has been set up in the church near the Chapel entrance for you to take a card and decide how you wish to show your support. Jwaye Nwel an Jiyè – Merry Christmas in July!
Blessings on your week ahead.
Fr. Tim Shreenan, O.F.M.