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When in Doubt, You Know What to Do


"True prayer is a way of life, not just for use in cases of emergency. Make it a habit, and when the need arises you will be in practice." ~ Billy Graham

It would be supremely difficult if not impossible to rank the deeds and accomplishments of Jesus. The miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana would usher in and subsequently accelerate his earthly ministry, thus placing it high on ant hypothetical list. Raising Lazarus from the dead would most likely be in the conversation too, as would the countless miracles of healing that Jesus performed, both of the physical and spiritual variety. His death and resurrection, the very reason for our hope and joy, would certainly top many lists. I would assert however that what took place in today’s Gospel (Luke 6:12-18), wherein Jesus selected the 12 Apostles (LINK), would certainly crack the Top 10.

In his seminal work Against Heresies(I:10:1), Saint Irenaeus said of the Apostles in part “We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they had perfect knowledge, as some even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles.” Irenaeus goes on to discuss the Apostles’ post-Resurrection and Pentecostal role in our salvation story when he concludes that “after our Lord rose from the dead, they were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came down, were filled from all, and had perfect knowledge. They departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings of the good things sent from God to us and proclaiming the peace of heaven to men, who indeed do all equally and individually possess the Gospel of God.”

Affixed to the choir loft of a nearby church that I attend from time to time on my lunch hour are placards bearing the names of the Apostles accompanied by images depicting the means by which they were martyred. For Simon the Zealot, there is a saw for as legend has it, he was sawed in two….Matthias the executioner’s hatchet…Peter the upside-down cross, and so on. All but John were martyred, and of course we know the fate of Judas Iscariot.

In today’s Gospel, we’re told that Jesus, prior to naming the the Apostles, went up to the mountain top where he would proceed to spend the entire night in prayer. True to form, he shows us what a perfectly prayerful life looks like. In Luke 11:5-13, Jesus famously tells his disciples to ask and you will receive, seek and you will fund, knock and the door will be opened to you (11:9-10). If the Son of God was so ensconced in prayer, how much more so do we need to do the same?

In his Essay for The Catholic Thing entitled “Prayers, Not Thoughts,” author David Bonagura explains that “To pray is a creaturely and humble act. We acknowledge our limits and our dependence on a Being who transcends the natural order and is superior to ourselves. To pray is an act of trust. We call upon God, our loving Father, to provide for us in our needs. To pray is an act of charity. We can do no better than to entrust the needy to God’s providential care.” Saint Philip Neri simply said “There is nothing the devil fears so much, or so much tried to hinder, as prayer.”

On this day where prayer takes center stage, it would only seem fitting to close with a prayer about prayer. And always remember that when in doubt, you know what to do…because Jesus showed us.

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“O God, who gave us the gift of true prayer and of peace, graciously grant that we may do fitting homage to your divine majesty and be faithfully united to you in both mind and in heart.” ~ Amen

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