Jesus’ example of prayer Homily for 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

I preached this homily at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on February 4, 2018, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Make time to pray

Jesus got up before dawn after an exhausting day.

If we really make the decision, we can always FIND some time. This goes even when you’re tired. Think about it – how many things do we do during the day that we force into our schedules because we want to badly enough.

Prayer in solitude

Jesus does pray in public sometimes, too, but his biggest times of prayer are always in solitude. When we pray, we have to focus on God not that we can be seen doing it.

Prayer might be interrupted

Sometimes, our actual obligations of life will interrupt our prayer. It happened several times to Jesus. He went off to pray, and people came to him.

One of the saints says that a priest shouldn’t worry if he is called from prayer to serve his people. He only leaves one work of God for another work of God.

But how many people in here are ordained priests?

How many of you are priests? Every baptised person is a member of the common priesthood. But, in actual vocation and obligations of life, most of you have primary commitments to family. You are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. You are not ordained priests. Even moreso, you are not monks.

I want to close with a short passage from Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life (The book is a series of instructions on prayer written to a woman named Philothea, so that’s why you’ll hear me say that name).

When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind; he has likewise [God] commanded Christians…to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station and his calling.

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one in particular.

Tell me, please, my Philothea, whether it is proper for a bishop to want to lead a solitary life like a Carthusian; or for married people to be no more concerned than a Capuchin about increasing their income; or for a working man to spend his whole day in church like a religious; or on the other hand for a religious to be constantly exposed like a bishop to all the events and circumstances that bear on the needs of our neighbor. Is not this sort of devotion ridiculous, unorganized and intolerable? Yet this absurd error occurs very frequently, but in no way does true devotion, my Philothea, destroy anything at all. On the contrary, it perfects and fulfills all things. In fact if it ever works against, or is inimical to, anyone’s legitimate station and calling, then it is very definitely false devotion.

The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them. True devotion does still better. Not only does it not injure any sort of calling or occupation, it even embellishes and enhances it.

Therefore, in whatever situations we happen to be, we can and we must aspire to the life of perfection.

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