A key element of our Faith is the dialogue we have with God; which we call prayer. In our scripture readings today, we have examples of prayer. In the Gospel, we have Jesus praying to the Father. He is offering prayer by glorifying the Father and at the same time, telling the disciples that He has completed [or will soon complete] the work His Father set him.
He also prays for the disciples, acknowledging that they have accepted Him as the Christ, sent by God Almighty.
When I was reading this in preparation for today, my mind drifted to the parable of the servants who had been entrusted with 5 talents or 2 talents or 1 talent, each according to his ability [Matt 25:14]. If we recall the first servant invested his talents and doubled them and so did the second servant. The third servant was too afraid to lose what he had, so buried the single talent entrusted to him. He was condemned for his laziness.
If we compare this parable with what Jesus did with the talents he was given; He turned sinners and tax-collectors, as well as fishermen and Zealots into Apostles; these men formed the foundations of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, which has reached the whole world; teaching and spreading the Good News that Jesus is the Salvation of the World. Jesus in turn asks us to use the talents we have been given and asks us to be productive, we are not to keep our Faith [our talents] to ourselves, we are called to be like the Apostles and to spread the Good News to those we meet.
In the first reading, we have the Apostles and other disciples, meeting with Our Lady and other women. They spent their time in prayer.
Can we imagine what that room was like?
Can we imagine being in their presence?
They also used this time to be active and planned for the next stage of the growth of the Church, it was during these days that they selected Mathias to replace Judas, again they did this in prayer and then sought Divine intervention by casting lots. We are called to follow the example of the Apostles and to pray.
At this time, we pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all Christians, so that the Church founded by Jesus and developed by the Apostles can be one again. We pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those preparing for Confirmation, so that they can reignite the faith of those around them, just like the Apostles and the other disciples did, that Pentecost Sunday. We pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to restore peace in our world. We pray for our leaders that they will see the value of every person from conception to natural death and that they will work to ensure that every person they serve is given every opportunity to thrive and contribute to Society.
We also remember that prayer, being a dialogue, involves listening. In the quiet during our prayer time, we need to follow the example of the Apostles and listen. What does God ask us to do? The Apostles used this time to plan the next stages of the Church, do we ask during our prayer time how God wants us to be involved in the next stages of the Church? Bishop Philip has a ten-year plan, have we looked at how we can actively engage with this?
Pope Francis in his message for World Communications Sunday [today] urges us to listen and to speak with the heart. He reminds us that in order “to communicate well we must love well”. Pope Francis takes inspiration from St Francis de Sales and St John Henry Newman in his message to the world.1 Emphasising that communication should never be thought of as merely a sales pitch to get our message across, but should be one where relationship between the one transmitting the message and the one receiving it is crucial.
We can sometimes think that these things are difficult, that it is only really special people that God calls, that we are not able to do God’s work. But that is not true. Jesus called ordinary men and women to be His disciples. Some of them were named as Apostles and they were commissioned to go out to the whole world and Baptise in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Every single person who has been Baptised is an adopted child of God; we are all special, we have all been baptised as priest, prophet and king and this makes us all heirs to the kingdom. We have all been given a task to do, a task that only we can do.
This time, between the Ascension and next weekend when we celebrate Pentecost is a special time for us, we are encouraged to pray every day; these nine days formed the original Novena. I am following the Novena through a link from ‘Pray more Novenas’2, this is an organisation which prays Novenas throughout the year and sends out daily reminders when they are on. It is a really useful way of being reminded to pray the Novena. [I have placed a link to this Novena and to another for a New Pentecost for the Church below].
Jesus told the Apostles to go and stay in Jerusalem and await the gift He had promised; that gift is the Holy Spirit. We therefore join in prayer with Catholics around the world and pray for that gift, it is a gift promised to all who believe. The promise was made by Jesus and Jesus keeps all of His promises.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Seventh Sunday of Easter: prayer and the spiritual life
CCC 2746-2751: Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
CCC 312, 434, 648, 664: the Father glorifies Christ
CCC 2614, 2741: Jesus prays for us
CCC 726, 2617-2619, 2673-2679: at prayer with Mary
Please keep in your prayers this week
- The success of the pastoral area formation programme ‘The Wild Goose’ which we are using as part of the Year of the Holy Spirit.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Our young people preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
- Those attending the RCIA programme at St Bede’s on Wednesday evenings.
- Those discerning a vocation.
- Those preparing to be ordained to the priesthood or diaconate.
- The 16 families due to complete the Baptism Preparation Programme at St Bede’s this weekend.