Memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska
The gift of faith grows when we allow it to inspire action, especially when our faith inspires a love of God and a love of neighbor. All week people have been making demands of Jesus: “Increase our faith…What must I do…Tell her to help me…” Today the apostles ask Jesus to teach them to pray. Unlike the three previous requests, Jesus grants this one, and in doing so He changes the face of prayer forever.
Faith, hope, and love…according to St. Paul (1 Cor. 13:13) the greatest of these is love but faith is connected to love and leads us to it. Therefore when we pray in faith, it ought to be a prayer rooted in love for the one to whom we pray. This is, after all, how Jesus prays; in other words Jesus teaches His disciples not merely how to pray, but how to pray as He Himself prays. Hence He begins with “Father…”At each Mass we hear this introduction to the Lord’s Prayer: “At the Savior’s command, and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say…” Yes, dare. How bold are we to address our Creator as Father! How daring to speak to God as does His only Begotten Son! Why would Jesus teach us to pray in this way?
Father, ideally, is a form of address that indicates a bond of love between the one praying and the one listening; we pray not only to the God we believe in, but the God we love. Remember that we shall love the Lord our God with all our heart; Jesus opens His Heart to us and teaches us a prayer of love.
Notice how the prayer begins, addressing God as His child, blessing His name and expressing our desire for His Kingdom; an address of love. And we trust in His mutual love, asking Him to continue providing for our needs, and imploring His mercy. Notice, too, that our love of God and love of neighbor are not distinct and separate, but are joined at the hip, so to speak. We ask God to forgive us insofar as we forgive our neighbors; we confess, in our prayer, that our love for God must encompass everyone else. They, too, are empowered by Christ to address and love God as Father, and thus they are not merely our neighbor but our family, united by the Blood of Christ that begins our salvation in Baptism, and nourishes us in the Eucharist: the Blood that washes away our sins.
The life of faith and, ultimately, our salvation is not merely concerned with our being in God’s good graces, but crucially hinges upon our right relationship with one another, as much as this is possible by the grace of God. Our daily bread—the Eucharist—strengthens us for the impossible: the forgiveness of those who have horribly wronged us, loving the impossible person, trusting after we have been deeply wounded yet again… In the Eucharist Jesus gives us Himself, making us day-by-day more perfect children of the Father until, in the end, when He has perfected us, we are like Him. (1 John 3:2)