Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 24, 2019 – Year C
Readings: 1 Sm 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23 / Ps 103 / 1 Cor 15:45-49 / Lk 6:27-38
by Father Paul O’Donnell Duggan, Guest Celebrant
Can you guess who my favorite brother is and why? My favorite brother is Father Frank, because he always practices these three words, “Cherish no grudge.” People often ask me in response to that, “Who is my least favorite brother?” Can you dislike someone in your own family? I think dislike is too strong a word; perhaps distant would better describe my relationship to this brother. His name is Alton, and he lives in Minnesota. He was training for the priesthood, but he got expelled because he was smoking in the bathroom. This was in the 1950’s in Ireland, so it wasn’t an accepted thing. As a result of his expulsion, we never got to become close.
A few years ago he came to Florida and visited me. As I was in the habit of walking along the beach in the early mornings – it is such a peaceful time –he asked if he could walk with me. I readily agreed. When I walk, I go for an hour or more and I worried what we would talk about. I decided to ask him if he would like to pray the rosary with me, and he agreed. That action caused the walls of separation that kept Alton and me apart to come crashing down. You see, God wants to destroy what separates us.
The gospel has something to say about this: “Pray for those who mistreat you.” In praying with my brother, although we never actually mistreated each other, the walls that separated us crumbled. Separation is not the plan of God. He doesn’t want brothers (or sisters) to be separated. Through Baptism, all of us become brothers and sisters in God, and God wants us to be together, whether we are spouses, parents and children, or whoever. The way the walls we have built to separate ourselves come down is when we pray. We can pray alone but it is especially good to pray together.
One of my great joys a few weeks ago was to see a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. His name is Father O’Brady and he spent many years serving as a priest in the RMA. We hadn’t seen each other in over twenty-five years, when he contacted me and we reconnected. He even came to visit me and we spent some time together and it was wonderful. The best part wasn’t just being together or celebrating Mass together – although both those were great – it was praying Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer together. It was so good to pray with someone.
Jesus showed us that prayer is very important. Before any important event or decision, He prayed. He often spent the night in prayer. Before He named His Apostles, He prayed. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed. Even on the cross, He prayed Psalm 22. The thread through His life teaches us that we must be prayerful people. Today the focus is on praying together. There is a wonderful book by Squire Rushnell and his wife called Couples Who Pray Together. It is a phenomenal book, and I recommend that all couples get it.
Today as we come to the Table, we want to remember God’s words in the gospel. I want you to pray for those who mistreat you. Personalize it by saying “I will pray for those who mistreat me.” Please say that as you receive the Lord in Holy Communion. God wants us to take the initiative to mean this statement and to pray for others. The angels in heaven will certainly clap.