- Document: Holy Scripture Readings
1.1. First Reading: The Book of the prophet Isaiah 55:10-11
1.2. Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St Matthew 6:7-15
1.3. Simple Comment: Isaiah’s prophecy about the effectiveness of Yahweh’s word is truly fulfilled in the person of the Messiah, who, in our Christian faith-belief, is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Word made flesh. In Jesus we find God’s definitive word coming down from the heavens, watering the earth and making it fertile with his wisdom and at the same time, returning to the Father after having accomplished His will of salvation for mankind. In the Gospel Jesus teaches his disciples the genuine prayer – his personal prayer – desiring that the Father be praised and be known, and that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
- Monument: Mount of the Beatitudes
2.1. A little further up the grassy knoll of Tabgha and moving more towards Capernaum lies the traditional location where Jesus gave his sermon on the Mount as narrated by Matthew the evangelist. It is in this sermon that we today receive our Gospel reading regarding prayer. It was a favorite place of Jesus because it was a deserted hilly place which he usually sought as his space for intimate prayer with the Father.
2.2. It possesses a splendid view of the Sea of Galilee and springtime makes it burst with wild flowers, and melodious with the sounds of birdsong. No wonder Arabs termed it “God’s Eye”. For Matthew, it was the new Mount Sinai from which the new Moses (Jesus) enunciated the new rules of the new Covenant: you heard it said…do not kill, but I tell you…do not even be angry!; you heard it said… do not commit adultery, but I tell you… do not even look at a person with lust in your eyes!
2.3. What Jesus taught on the Mount of the Beatitudes, he put into practice in his public ministry and splendidly showed on Mount Calvary, specially the injunction: Love your enemies, do good to those that hate you, pray for those who persecute… then you will be like your Father who makes the sun shine on the good and the bad and makes his rain fall on the just and the unjust.
- Lenten Reflection
3.1. Reflecting yesterday on almsgiving, we now have the occasion to reflect on the meaning of prayer in the context of our Lenten practices. Praying cannot be just a rattling of formulas and memorized devotional prayers. Jesus encourages us to pray in secret, and just like him, to find our sacred space where we can be intimate with the Father.
3.2. Moreover, if in these forty days, we make it a habit to pray from our heart, God’s word in Isaiah might be accomplished also in us. Genuine prayer is to seek to do God’s will, making His kingdom come in us and through us, just like in His Son Jesus. By the power of the Spirit, who makes us say: Abba, Father!, we will be transformed into God’s effective sons and daughters who treat each other as brothers and sisters. We return to our heavenly Father having done His will that is, achieving the end for which we were created – becoming His image and His likeness.
- Contemporary Filipino Question: There are about 140 million Catholics in Asia in a total population of nearly 3 billion people, a meager 4%. Yet there are 80 million Filipino Catholics who therefore count to more than half of the Catholic population of Asia! Can we claim we serve as light in Asia, that God’s word is effective to us, individually and as a people? Do we really mean it when we pray Our Father? That is, do we really treat each other as brothers and sisters because our faith in the one Father makes us truly brother / sister to each other?