20 February
Mt 6:7-15

Jesus said,When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

It is a great pity that many people still identify prayer with ‘saying prayers’.  We do this despite what Jesus said:  "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.”  We have long neglected contemplative prayer, willing to leave it to people who live in monasteries.  But lay people are just as likely to feel the need of it as monks and nuns; and this is now becoming evident all around us.  Not finding any interest in it in their local parish, many people began to look elsewhere for it; hence the interest in non-Christian religions.  But contemplative prayer is now being rediscovered in Christian circles in our own time.  However, Church authorities (with almost no exception) have shown no active interest in it.  This is surely a major tragedy – perhaps even another scandal – in the Church today.  Leadership has too long been seen as administration; but the crying need now is for spiritual leadership. 

Another though.  Has it ever struck you that in the Our Father, “the pattern of all Christian prayer,” there is no mention of Jesus, his life, death or resurrection, nor mention of any of the Christian mysteries?  This absence suggests that it was his own prayer.  In prayer he was seized by one single awareness: the Father; he was not thinking about himself.  When we pray the Our Father we are not praying to him, but with him; we are praying his prayer.   We are so close to him that we do not see him.  We are (so to speak) inside his head looking out through his eyes and seeing, like him, only the Father and the world.  We are praying in him.  All Christian praying is praying “in Christ.”  The normal ending to every Christian prayer is: “through Christ our Lord.”  At the end of the Eucharistic Prayer we say, “Through him, and with him, and in him….”  All Christian praying is praying “in Christ.”  Repeating the words will bring us to the Holy Place, true; but by itself it will not lead us into the Holy of Holies.


Back to calendar

This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


Notice Board

Let's celebrate the Good News!