Homily for August 2018 Holy Hour
Isaiah 25:6a, 7-9
Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
We started our monthly holy hour last September as part of our diocesan Year of the Eucharist. So, it was only logically that the themes of the readings we used helped us reflect on the Eucharist. After all, it is the Eucharist, the Body of Christ that we see on our altar right now.
Then came Christmas, then Lent and Easter providing themes for our Holy Hours.
Now, our diocesan Year of the Eucharist is over and we are in Ordinary Time. That means it is more challenging for me to pick a theme and readings to go with it. I try to listen to the Lord to know what he wants spoken to you (and me!). This can require patience. There is the saying “patience is a virtue” but I add that I don’t have a lot of patience. So, I have some difficulty in waiting for themes to come to me.
This time I didn’t have to wait long. In fact, the theme for tonight and some of the readings literally came to me during our last holy hour. We were just finishing the Prayers of the Faithful and beginning the Lord’s Prayer when it came to me to do a holy hour based on the Lord’s Prayer.
The choice for a gospel reading was immediately obvious, Matthew’s telling of Jesus teaching this prayer to his disciples. From there, a thought in my head said, “isn’t there a verse in Paul’s letters that says we do not know how to pray as we ought?” That lead to the second reading from Romans tonight.
That is where I left last month’s holy hour. I still needed to come up with a first reading and psalm for tonight. I wasn’t having much luck until I was working on a funeral and thought of tonight’s first reading from Isaiah.
There may not seem to be an “obvious” connection to the Lord’s Prayer to this passage from Isaiah. Isaiah is speaking about the veil that veils all people. The veil that Isaiah is writing about is “death.” “Death” is not mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer. What is mentioned is “thy kingdom come.”
Jesus comes to lift the veil that veils all people. Jesus comes to die and rise for us to give a new perspective on dying. Earthly death is not a final end. Knowing that changes the way we look at life in this world. It calls us to work for the coming of God’s kingdom (“thy kingdom come”).
Likewise, the 23rd Psalm speaks of the Lord leading and guiding us. Guiding us to what? To his will being done (“thy will be done”).
Doing God’s will is not easy. It begins with knowing God’s will and then asking for the courage to do it. To know God’s Will we need to pray but we may “not know how to pray as we ought.”
This brings us to Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer is just 55 words but these 55 words really sum up everything we need to be praying for.
“Our Father who art in heaven” – God is not some distant being that we cannot know. He is not just our “master.” He is “our Father.” That means we have a relationship with him. That means he watches over and cares for us. Earthly fathers are not perfect. Some people do not have good fathers. For them, it can be hard to relate to God as Father. Our earthly fathers are not perfect but God is. We can count on God to give us what we truly need.
“Hallowed be thy name” – “Hallow” is to make “great.” God’s name is great because of the wonderful things he does for us. We “hallow” his name when we praise for what he does for us.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” – The first might seem obvious. Of course, we want the world to be as God wants it. But when we pray “thy will be done”, are we trusting that God who is all-knowing wills what is best for us or would we rather God do things our way? We pray “thy will be done.”
“Give us this day our daily bread.” – we cannot do God’s will on our own (nor do we have to). God gives us whatever it is we need to do his will.
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Of course, we want God’s forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is a gift made possible for us by Jesus’ death on the Cross. Sometimes it is difficult for us to believe God forgives us. That’s because our love is broken and we don’t always want to forgive others. We might think we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness. That’s why it is a gift. We can’t earn God’s forgiveness but he always wants to give us this gift. We need to share the gift.
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” – Jesus comes not just to die for us. First, he teaches us what it means to keep God’s commandments. He teaches to be his disciples. In his teaching and in his Crucifixion, Jesus delivers us from death.
God wants to help us do his will. He will guide us but we have to listen. So, now we take some time to quiet ourselves to listen to what God is trying to tell us.