Praying Is For Relating, Not For Asking

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40 Shades of Lent 2017, Tuesday, Wk.1
Isaiah 55:10-11//Matthew 6:7-15
Last Tuesday we played in our radio program Billy Joel’s “Leave A Tender Moment Alone” being the last day of February, the month of love. I have always loved that song for it speaks truly about our problem as men when it comes to relating with women: “Even though I’m in love, sometimes I get so afraid; I’ll say something so wrong just to have something to say.” The song beautifully narrates the important lesson for a man to always “leave a tender moment alone”- that is, be silent- especially when he had said so much or when his woman is hurting inside. This season of Lent is also an invitation for us to be silent and listen more to those around us, most especially to God. In this world of so much noise that even machines talk to give us directions and instructions, silence has become a rare commodity that had inversely cheapened words. So unlike the word of God hidden in silence, it is not only creative and transformative but most of all, according to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, performative. Whatever God says, He does and comes into reality and fulfillment: “Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” (Is.55:10-11)
On the other hand, in our Gospel today, Jesus Christ is teaching us how to use words in praying to God by calling Him “Our Father.” Let us review what led the Lord in teaching us His prayer: Jesus said to his disciples, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray…”(Mt.6:7-9)
I thought the Father knows what we need even before we ask Him but, why did Jesus teach us how to pray? According to biblical scholars, in St. Matthew’s account, the focus of the “Our Father” is on how to pray while in St. Luke, it is what to say. Therefore, our Gospel today is teaching us that prayer is not about words but of “being” or presence and awareness of God. Prayer is a sort of Billy Joel’s “tender moment” of just being there with an open heart, willing to listen and feel the Beloved. Secondly, notice how St. Matthew added after the “Our Father” a reminder of the need to forgive those who have sinned against us as a condition so that God would forgive us too. Here we find that ultimately, prayer is not about asking but more about relating that we need to forgive those who have sinned against us. When we refuse to forgive, we stop relating. When we pray “Our Father”, we are relating not only with our loving God in heaven but also with one another as brothers and sisters. May the word of God like rain keep us all together in love and mercy so that our relationships may bloom and bear fruit in eternal life. Amen.
Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista
Gov. F. Halili Ave., Sta. Maria, Bulacan

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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