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Prayer Changes You
Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area. He looked around at everything and, since it was already late, went out to Bethany with the Twelve. The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs.
And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” And his disciples heard it.
They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area. Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples? But you have made it a den of thieves.” The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it and were seeking a way to put him to death, yet they feared him because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching. When evening came, they went out of the city. Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I thank you for all the mighty and wondrous things you have done for me as well as for every answered and unanswered prayer. Out of your love for me, you continue to help me to grow in my relationship with you. Give me the wisdom to know what to ask of you and the courage to yield to your will because I know that your will is the best for me.
- A Temple for Prayer: In this Gospel, we read that Jesus journeyed to the city of Jerusalem and entered the temple there. He was not happy with what he saw. The temple was sacred space but the people had turned it into a “den of thieves.” By their behavior, they disgraced themselves and offended God. We are also temples of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord has given us the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes so that we can worship God in purity and holiness through our bodies, minds, and souls. If we disgrace ourselves, Jesus has given us the sacrament of reconciliation to restore our temple so that we can once again worship him worthily.
- Prayer Changes You: Jesus used the withered fig tree to teach the Apostles a lesson about faith. “Have faith in God” Jesus says. “Do not doubt.” Pope Francis encouraged us to let everything enter into our dialogue with God—our joys as well as guilt, love as well as suffering, friendship as much as sickness. He added that “everything can become a word spoken to [God] who always listens to us” and that “prayer leaves us in God’s hands.” When we pray in a spirit of faith to the best of our ability, perhaps even pleading “help my unbelief,” God’s grace flows and we are slowly transformed into other Christs.
- Forgive Us Our Trespasses: Prayer and forgiveness work hand in hand. The last line of this Gospel passage is similar to a line in the Lord’s Prayer. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Here, we ask God to forgive us the way we forgive others. We need God’s help to forgive others. True and sincere prayer yields love and forgiveness towards our brothers and sisters who have hurt us. It melts our hardened hearts.
Conversing with Christ: Dear Jesus, thank you for always accompanying me in my joys and sufferings. Lord Jesus, I believe that you can take away my pain, my wounds, and my unforgiveness towards those who have wronged me. Soften my heart and let your love grow in it so I, too, can love those around me without expecting anything in return.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray for a friend who needs comfort and peace.
For Further Reflection: Read the Catechesis on Prayer of Pope Francis in his General Audience of June 24, 2020, and learn from the prayer of David.
Beverly Dalton is a writer and lives in the city of Manila. She also works for a Catholic psychology center, helping out with research studies and programs for the poor. When she is not busy, she spends time with her mom and sister, and occasionally finds leisure and relaxation in soapmaking as seen in @twosistershome.ph.