Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 12-13, 2018
From Fr. Anthony Ligato
What should we pray for?
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Over the years as a priest, I have had my share of people who came to me with one problem or another seeking advice and guidance. The first question I usually ask people is, have you prayed? Many times, the response has been, I didn’t want to bother God with my problems. If we don’t pray for ourselves and those we love in our time of need, when should we pray? Jesus is praying to the Father in his time of need, he is preparing himself for his suffering and death on the cross in today’s Gospel passage from John 17:11b-19, and he is trying to prepare his disciples in their time of need by praying also for them. “Holy Father keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.” (John 17:11)
What should we pray for? Shouldn’t we pray that we remain faithful to Jesus as Jesus himself prayed that his disciples would remain faithful? “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.” If Jesus prays that we remain faithful shouldn’t we do the same for ourselves? Shouldn’t we pray that we are united with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Shouldn’t we pray for God’s protection in our lives? Jesus after all prayed for the protection of his disciples, “When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them.” Shouldn’t we pray that we are protected particularly from the evil one? Should we pray that we are faithful to the Gospel? Jesus prayed that his disciples would be faithful to his word, “I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” Should we pray that we are Eucharistic centered people? We are consecrated in the Eucharist, “I consecrate myself to them, so that they may be consecrated in truth.”
Why shouldn’t we pray, after all Jesus is praying for us. There is great comfort in knowing that Jesus prays for us. We profess that Jesus ascended to Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. The responsorial Psalm 103 song of praise and thanksgiving which proclaims the universal sovereignty of Jesus Christ. “The Lord has set his throne in heaven” We are assured of this because John 17:1-19, tells us, “Lifting his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed.” This is the only place in the Gospels where Jesus explicitly prays for his disciples. But we know he prayed each time he performed a miracle because it was through prayer that he was revealed to be in full union with God the Father. Each time Jesus prayed it was to reveal the Father’s glory for through prayer the lame walked, the blind were given sight and the dead were raised. Jesus’ prayers which proceed his miracles reveals who Jesus is, as the son of God. Jesus’ prayers reveal what Jesus has come into the world to do, to make all things new.
For only the preexistent word of God can bring about a new creation. (John 1:1-18) Jesus’ prayers also reveal what Jesus will do for us, so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) Each time we pray, we draw a little closer to God and the more we pray the stronger our faith becomes. The Gospel of John and the letters of John speak of the importance of remaining in the presence of God and how God’s presence will then guide us to make the proper choices in life. “if we love one another, God remains in us and his love is brought to perfection.” (1 John 4:11-16) The scriptures remind us that we have the ability to bring about change in this world through our prayers. “Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.” (1John 4:14) The Apostles understood the importance of prayer especially when they had to discern who would replace Judas who betrayed Jesus. They proposed two men to become the twelfth Apostle. They prayed before they made choice, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen.” (Acts 1:15-17, 20- 26) The church must always bring to prayer all decisions before they are made, for they must decide through seeking the will of God.
So, what should we pray for? All these things and more! After all Jesus is praying for us. Knowing that we have the presence of Jesus always with us gives us great courage and strength to change the world through one prayer at a time.
Yours in Christ, Fr. Anthony