First Reading: From the Book of Sirach 48:1-14
Vrs1 Then the prophet Elijah arose like a fire, his word flaring like a torch.
Vrs2 It was he who brought famine on them and decimated them in his zeal.
Vrs3 By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens, three times also he brought down fire.
Vrs4 How glorious you were in your miracles, Elijah! Has anyone reason to boast as you have? –
Vrs5 rousing a corpse from death, from Sheol, by the word of the Most High;
Vrs6 dragging kings down to destruction, and high dignitaries from their beds;
Vrs7 hearing a rebuke on Sinai and decrees of punishment on Horeb;
Vrs8 anointing kings as avengers, and prophets to succeed you;
Vrs9 taken up in the whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses;
Vrs10 designated in the prophecies of doom to allay God’s wrath before the fury breaks, to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children, and to restore the tribes of Jacob.
Vrs11 Blessed, those who will see you, and those who have fallen asleep in love; for we too shall certainly have life.
Vrs12 Such was Elijah, who was enveloped in a whirlwind; and Elisha was filled with his spirit; throughout his life no ruler could shake him, and no one could subdue him.
Vrs13 No task was too hard for him, and even in death his body prophesied.
Vrs14 In his lifetime he performed wonders, and in death his works were marvellous.
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 97:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7
Vrs1 Yahweh is king! Let earth rejoice, the many isles be glad!
Vrs2 Cloud, black cloud enfolds him, saving justice and judgement the foundations of his throne.
Vrs3 Fire goes before him, sets ablaze his enemies all around;
Vrs4 his lightning-flashes light up the world, the earth sees it and quakes.
Vrs5 The mountains melt like wax, before the Lord of all the earth.
Vrs6 The heavens proclaim his saving justice, all nations see his glory.
Vrs7 Shame on all who serve images, who pride themselves on their idols; bow down to him, all you gods!
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint Matthew 6:7-15
Vrs7 ‘In your prayers do not babble as the gentiles do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard.
Vrs8 Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Vrs9 So you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy,
Vrs10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Vrs11 Give us today our daily bread.
Vrs12 And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.
Vrs13 And do not put us to the test, but save us from the Evil One.
Vrs14 ‘Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours;
Vrs15 but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.
Do you pray with joy and confidence? The Jews were noted for their devotion to prayer. Formal prayer was prescribed for three set times a day. And the rabbis had a prayer for every occasion. Jesus warns his disciples against formalism, making prayer something mechanical and devoid of meaning, with little thought for God. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he gave them the disciple’s prayer, what we call the Our Father or Lord’ Prayer. This prayer dares to call God “our Father” and boldly asks for the things we need to live as his sons and daughters.
It is through the gift of the Holy Spirit that we can know God personally and call him “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). We can approach God our Father with confidence and boldness because Jesus Christ has opened the way to heaven for us through his death and resurrection. When we ask God for help, he fortunately does not give us what we deserve. Instead, he responds with grace and favor and mercy. It is his nature to love generously and to forgive mercifully. When he gives he gives more than we need so we will have something to share with others in their need as well.
God is kind and forgiving towards us and he expects us to treat our neighbor the same. Do you treat others as they deserve, or do you treat them as the Lord would treat you with his grace and favor and mercy? Jesus’ prayer includes an injunction that we must ask God to forgive us in proportion as we forgive those who have wronged us. Ask the Lord to free your heart of any anger, bitterness, resentment, selfishness, indifference, or coldness towards others. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with the fire of his burning love and compassion and with the river of his overflowing mercy and kindness.
“Father in heaven, you have given me a mind to know you, a will to serve you, and a heart to love you. Give me today the grace and strength to embrace your holy will and fill my heart with your love that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to you. Give me the grace to be charitable in thought, kind in deed, and loving in speech towards all.”