Persistent Prayer - The Eucharist

(Homily for Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C)

Bottom line: St. Francis´ life illustrates this Sunday´s Gospel: to pray with persistence - the most basic prayer, the Eucharist.

Last Sunday we heard about an important form of prayer - gratitude, giving thanks. We noted that the Mass is the greatest prayer of thanksgiving. Sometimes we call the Mass "the Eucharist" - a Greek word that means to give thanks.

This Sunday we hear about another aspect of prayer: persistence, not growing weary, but keeping at it. Persistence also applies to the Mass. If the Mass is the highest form of prayer, we must keep at it - weekly or even daily.

The life and writings of St. Francis illustrate persistent prayer, including the Eucharist. This year I have been making a study of St. Francis in preparation for our World Youth Day pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi and Madrid.

St. Francis left behind few writings, but the authentic works that we do have show the centrality of the Eucharist in his life. For example, Francis wrote a short letter to his fellow clerics (he was a deacon himself). In the letter he says, "In this world we have and see nothing corporally of the Most High except his Body and Blood."* These are words of man who treasured the Eucharist - and who was disturbed that so many took the Eucharist lightly. Francis´life centered on the Body and Blood of Christ.**

That St. Francis received the Eucharist regularly can be seen in his "Prayer Inspired by the Our Father." He gives a beautiful explanation of each phrase of the Lord´s Prayer. But when he comes to "Our Daily Bread" he says simply, "Your Own Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ." That is the daily bread we should also desire - Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist.

So, St. Francis´ life illustrates this Sunday´s Gospel: to pray with persistence - and the most basic prayer is the Eucharist. As Francis says, the Eucharist is the one place where we corporally see and have the Most High. Like Francis we desire the Father´s own Beloved Son be Our Daily Bread. Amen.

************

*From Francis and Clare - The Complete Works. Here is a fuller quote:

"For in this world we have and see nothing corporally of the Most High except His Body and Blood...But let all who administer such holy mysteries - especially those who administer them carelessly - consider the sad state of the chalices, the corporals and the altar-linens upon which the Body and Blood of our Lord are sacrificed. And the Body and Blood of the Lord is left by many in dirty places, carried about in a miserable manner, received unworthily and administered without discretion."

**In his "Letter to the Faithful" (Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance) we can see Francis´ reverence for the Eucharist:

"He who does not eat His Flesh and drink His Blood cannot enter the kingdom of God. Yet let him eat and drink worthily, since he who receives unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not recognizing - that is, not discerning - the Body of the Lord...And let all of us firmly realize that no one can be saved except through the holy words and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which the clergy pronounce, proclaim and minister. And they alone must administer them and not others."

Spanish Version

From Archives (Homilies for Twenty-Ninth Sunday, Year C):

2016: Boots Laced Week 5: Little People
2013: Focus on Prayer, Part Two: Persistence
2010: Persistent Prayer - The Eucharist
2007: The Manly Task of Intercession
2004: A Significant Battlefront
2001: Such a Home Is Prayer
1998: All Scripture is Inspired

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