18th February

This afternoon I found that it took me a few hours to say the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet because I kept falling asleep whilst saying the prayers. I trust that the good Lord will overlook my tired state of mind!

Today’s gospel is Matt 7:7-12. Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; asksearch, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. Is there a man among you who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or would hand him a snake when he asked for a fish? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.

‘So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.’

The five verses on which we are reflecting today are from the Sermon on the Mount. The first four (vv. 7-11) are to do with prayer and the final one (v. 12) is on love of our neighbour or the Golden Rule. The Spirit leads us, therefore, to see that prayer and love are intimately linked.

If you pray, you love; if you do not pray, it is harder to love. At the end of the day, when the evening sun comes down on our lives, what will we have to show but two things: our prayer and our love? For prayer and love are at the heart of the Christian life. The Jewish teacher Hillel said, ‘What you do not like, do not do to your neighbour.’ The rest, we could say, is commentary.

If we are to love as God calls us to love, we need to master the art of prayer — although, of course, none of us will ever truly master prayer. However, there is one area of prayer in which we all need particular help and it is this: we are all, to a man or woman, not bold enough in our prayer and we minimize or limit what God can do in our lives. We need to allow Jesus’ teaching to challenge our small thinking.

The key to prayer is understanding – receiving a revelation – that God is our Father. Which truly loving father does not want to give his children good things? If this is true of an earthly father, how much more true is it of our heavenly Father? But what are the good things that God wants to give us? His greatest gift, beyond dispute, is the Holy Spirit. For only by the power of the Spirit are we able to fulfil our vocation of living a life that reflects him. ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (Gal. 5:22). Let our daily prayer be that we receive and know more of the Spirit because this prayer will lead us to love.

The Christian life in a nutshell is prayer expressing itself through love. We will win the world over to the beauty and grandeur of Christ only by our love, and we come to know God’s love through prayer. This is why prayer and the Golden Rule are intimately and profoundly linked. (BIBLE ALIVE)

‘Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live.’ (The martyr St Robert Southwell)