Thursday, December 22, 2016

Most profound homily ever? On Repeating Prayers, by Father Michael Busch

Could this be one of the most profound homilies ever? About shamelessness in prayer and how we can approach God. 

If the above video isn't working embedded, click here you to watch it on YouTube! The Gospel reading and homily starts at 6 minutes, 58 seconds, and that link should take you right to 6:48


Jesus said to the disciples:
“Suppose one of you has a friend
and you go to him at midnight and say to him:
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived and I have nothing to set before him,’
and he answers from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children are with me in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything, because he is his friend,
at least because of his persistence,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs.

“So I say to you, ask and it will be given you;
search and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened for you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and every one who searches, finds;
and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, would give a snake instead of a fish?
Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?
If you then, who are evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask Him?”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Midnight is not the best time to go knocking on your neighbor’s door.

You would really have to be in need, and then, be willing to swallow your pride, to wake up your neighbor at midnight and ask for his help. 

It would require a fair amount of shamelessness.

In our Gospel, Jesus tells the story of a man who is helpless: he has an unexpected guest, arrive in the middle of the night, and the laws of hospitality demand that he make him a meal. 

He has nothing. So he must swallow his pride and make his way through the dark to his neighbor and bang on his door, asking to borrow three loaves of bread. 

His neighbor is already in bed. To respond to his friend’s request for bread, the neighbor will have to make his way to the door, being careful not to disturb his family. 

But Jesus says, that neighbor will do it.

Not just to be hospitable and friendly: he will do it because of the bold shamelessness and the stark helplessness of his neighbor. 

If that neighbor will thus respond to the shameless, helpless needs of a friend, how much more will our loving God respond to us in our helplessness and in our shamelessness?

Now, you may have noticed that I reinterpreted a key word in Jesus’ story. 

The Gospel used the word “persistence” in referring to the one who knocked on his neighbor’s door.

But an equally valid translation of that word is shamelessness. 

What compels the sleeping neighbor to respond is not repeated, persistent asking for bread, but rather it is the shameless[ness] of the very act of asking.

The neighbor comes as a beggar, stripping away his pride in in his humility and helplessness, he presumes upon his neighbor’s friendship. 

Now many use this parable to point out the persistence in prayer.

But it’s not really about how long we knock at the door, trying to "wear down” God’s resistance with our prayers so that God gives in just to “get rid” of us. If that were the case, then why does a mother’s constant persistent prayer for a missing child end up so often being found dead in some lonely, abandoned place? 

Prayer is about our helplessness. About our utter shamelessness in asking.

Now, do you have a friend you can call on in the middle of the night, someone that you could go to for help if you needed it? If you have ever done that, then you know just how much pride you had to swallow. How you had to give up that image of self-sufficiency in order to say, “please, I need to talk, I need your help.” 

That is the kind of utter shamelessness with which we must approach God in our prayer.

Much of our prayers are timid requests for things repeated over and over again, sounding like some celestial shopping list. 

Such timid prayers are useless no matter how persistently we pray them.

Repetition of such timid prayers are really a sign that we don’t trust in God’s ability to answer, that we really don’t believe that God will do anything about our needs, let alone our helplessness.

Prayer is a lot more than just asking for something, something we want or feel we should have. Prayer like that has nothing to do with God: it’s just you and I, talking to ourselves in a chorus of gimme gimme gimme.

Prayer is not a technique for getting what we want. It’s for getting what God wants to give us. It is coming to God in bold shamelessness, laying out our needs, admitting our own helplessness. 

It may start out as, “give me, give me, give me,” but at some point our prayer becomes, “change me, change me, change me.”

We pray because we can’t help ourselves. We pray because we are helpless. We pray because the need flows out of us all of the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes us. 

What would our prayer look like if we prayed out of shameless helplessness, out of a willingness to be changed? Instead of constantly asking for things, what if we prayed, “change me, O God: open me up, so that I can become the person you have made me to be.” 

Like that man in need, who approached his neighbor in the middle of the night, you and I approach God in complete helplessness, out of utter shamelessness. And when we do, our God will open the door, and revealing Himself to us, freely give us the gifts we need. 

When we receive God’s good gifts in our lives, the gift of the daily Eucharist in this Mass, the gift of forgiveness, the gift of the Holy Spirit, you and I are changed. We become more and more what God has already made us to be. 

So let us knock on God’s door, asking the Lord our God, the giver of all good gifts, to hear our prayer. 

The needs, the helplessness, the shamelessness in this world [are] staggering. Let us not be timid in our prayers and speak clearly to God about all of our needs: material and spiritual. Then let us open up our hearts to God and listen for His answer, ready to receive into our lives His good gifts and be changed. 


This homily is from the channel Daily Mass TV, Catholic Mass. 

(Side note: I personally like the Daily Mass TV YouTube videos of Mass more than EWTN's YT videos, even though the singing is better and I like the Latin used in EWTN's Masses more. But these videos are better in that they actually show the Mass--that consecration of the host. The most recent EWTN YT video cut off after the homily--right before the most important part, the Sacrifice of the Mass! -_- It was more than a little disappointing, I hope they don't do that for their internet audience always.)

BR Commentary!

I ran across a story of some men who were kidnapped and forced to work on a marijuana farm. They were tortured, living in soiled conditions, and escaped into the night, to knock frantically on a stranger's door, begging for help.

They had visible injuries and were taken immediately in an ambulance to a nearby hospital for treatment.

I don't know what your conversion story was like, but for me, I felt very much like someone kidnapped, beaten, and forced to work on a filthy crop for someone else to profit off of me, and I ran away to knock on God's door begging for help, even though I didn't know Who He was at all, and He rushed me off to safety and His healing!

You can read the amazing story here, (warning, pictures of the two women at the top of the article who kidnapped the men,  and they're really spooky and evil-looking, kind of scary to look at)

If we approach God in prayer, the way those escaped men approached that stranger's house, pounding on the door looking for sanctuary from our sins and the spiritual attacks of others, then God will help us, definitely.

Jesus to Saint Faustina:
  1. My daughter, imagine that you are the sovereign of all the world and have the power to dispose of all things according to your good pleasure. You have the power to do all the good you want, and suddenly a little child knocks on your door, and trembling and in tears and, trusting in your kindness, asks for a piece of bread lest he die of starvation. What would you do for this child? Answer Me, my daughter. 

  2. Faustina: “Jesus, I would give the child all it asked and a thousand times more.” 

  3. Jesus: That is how I am treating your soul. In this retreat I am giving you, not only peace, but also such a disposition of soul that even if you wanted to experience uneasiness you could not do so. My love has taken possession of your soul, and I want you to be confirmed in it. Bring your ear close to My Heart, forget everything else, and meditate upon My wondrous mercy. My love will give you the strength and courage you need in these matters. 

BR Prayers Links!

There are many Prayer Videos available on Bold Radish YouTube Channel, and the old prayer request page on this blog links to many great posts on how to pray and the importance of prayer!

The following are posts with novenas to Saints (ALL of these are Patrons of Growing in Virtue and Closeness to God if we ask them for their help in this!)

Chaplet of Divine Mercy POWERFUL! Life-changing! Written many articles on this devotion linked here! If you're trying to run away from your sins and from the miseries of your life, this is the prayer to best get God to open His door and heal you!

Chaplet of Our Lady's Tears, POWERFUL to pray for the possessed! Powerful deliverance prayer. POWERFUL for those suffering with sorrow and pain! Also good for any cause, God listens to the prayers and tears of His Holy Mother!

3PM Divine Mercy Prayer: anything you ask God for in virtue of His Passion in this prayer at 3PM, provided it is His Holy Will, He will grant. Good for deliverance and conversion and all kinds of help.

Meditation on Saint Mary Mother of God under the title Our Lady of Guadalupe, very good for changing and bringing God's grace into the soul

Saint Michael the Archangel Novena patron of deliverance, healing, any cause

Jesus the Infant (of Prague) patron of impossible causes, financial troubles, any cause

Saint Philomena, patron saint of Impossible Causes, mental illness, financial troubles, deliverance, learning, purity, and of the Children of Mary, any cause

Saint Dymphna, patron of mental illness, and she is a great sympathizer

Saint Anne, grandmother of Jesus, Mother of Mary. SUPER POWERFUL prayer, for any cause! The way Jesus obeys Mary as a mother, Mary obeys Anne as a mother, and Jesus obeys her as a grandmother. Saint Anne is AMAZING to pray to!

Novena to Saint Peregrine, patron of cancer patients (and those with spiritual cancers in their lives)

Prayer to Saint Clare of Assisi part of this prayer involves lighting a candle, which is really nice to do during any prayer (any regular store bought candle is ok, even scented is ok--the type of candle doesn't matter so long as it isn't occult, it is the FAITH in GOD that matters). She is patron of any cause, she is very helpful, but especially business or someone seeking God

Prayer of Spiritual Warfare, for spiritual protection from God

Prayer for Rest for the Departed Souls to pray for the dead (can name a specific person, prayed for a specific person by name)