Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the passages of the Scriptures both the works and deeds of the prophet Elijah, who was taken up from Heaven in a flaming chariot, and also the prayer that the Lord Jesus offered to His heavenly Father, the prayer that we now know and call as the Lord’s Prayer, the Pater Noster. Through these readings from the Scriptures, all of us are reminded that as Christians we have to follow the examples shown to us, in remaining connected to God, in being righteous in all of our actions, words and deeds, and to be faithful to God at all times.
In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Sirach, we heard of the praise that the prophet Sirach spoke with regards to Elijah, one of the most renowned prophets of Israel, who had laboured and worked hard for many years, in serving the Lord and calling on the people of God to turn away from their wicked deeds and ways. Elijah had to go up against the king and those who opposed him and stubbornly refused to listen to him. Yet, he persevered and continued to work hard for the glory of God.
The prophet Elijah continued to labour for the people of God, and eventually, the Lord called him to Heaven, after He had appointed Elisha to be the successor of Elijah for the ministry to the people of Israel. Elijah was taken up in a flaming chariot into Heaven, and while he has been taken up into Heaven, his story, his courage and hardworking efforts remained and had become great sources of inspiration for many people throughout history. There were many other prophets whose lives and dedication to God can also be our inspirations as well.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard the story of the Lord Jesus showing His disciples how they ought to pray to God, His heavenly Father. He told them all that they should not pray in the manner that the pagans liked to pray, who often used many words and invocations, and instead, they should pray in the manner that He Himself showed them, praying to the Lord in a truly Christian manner, as we all have been shown and taught how to do through the Church.
In prayer, many of us often made a mistake of not meaning and appreciating what we were saying. Many of us prayed with the prayers common to the Church and yet, not meaning what we said, because we were merely reciting the prayers instead of actually meaning every single words that we utter from our mouths. We were praying more with our mouths and not internalising those words we said, and not linking our mouths with our hearts and minds. This is one of the mistakes that we often made with prayers.
And then, we also often think of prayers as a way for us to get what we wanted and desired. We often think of prayers as means for us to miraculously gain what we hope the Lord would give us, and as such, many of us made such demands with the expectation that God will do something for us. Then, when we do not get what we wanted or if things do not go according to what we wanted it, we ended up getting angry at God, becoming unhappy at Him and even leaving Him behind. If we do get what we wanted, we often forgot about Him afterwards.
No, brothers and sisters in Christ, these are not how we should be praying to God. The true essence of prayer is communication, and it is the way through which we should communicate with the Lord, our God and Father, and how do we do it? A proper communication should involve listening and understanding, and it is very important that we open our hearts and minds to engage in a proper and meaningful conversation with God. We should dedicate time and effort to prayer, whenever we can, and in not demanding God, but rather, to communicate with God and to know His will for us all.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these words from the Scriptures, and based on what we had just discussed earlier on, we are all called and reminded to turn back towards the Lord and to be reconciled with Him. We are all called to follow the good examples of the prophet Elijah, the many other prophets and servants of God, the innumerable saints and martyrs who had spent their lives to glorify God by their actions and deeds. And we also have to deepen our spiritual and prayer life, so that we may come to know the Lord and that we may become ever closer to Him.
Let us all hence seek the Lord with renewed hearts and desires, to love Him and to serve Him at all times. May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey, and may He empower us and encourage us to walk ever more faithfully like that of the prophets and the saints. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.