prayer of intercession
29th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: October 20, 2019
Do you bother God? Well, you should bother God. Go ahead and bother God. Jesus himself is encouraging us to bother God. Pray with perseverance. Keep going back to God in prayer. It is faith to keep praying even when it seems we are getting no answer, when God seems silent.
We see an example of persevering prayer in our first reading. In this story of the people of Israel in a great battle, we see Moses at the top of the hill with the staff of God. As long as he is holding it up, they were winning. But, when his arms got tired and he lowered the staff, then they were being defeated. So, to keep his arms lifted with the staff they sat Moses on a stone and two others held up his arms.
His raised arms were a symbol of prayer, of trusting in God. This is why the Church matters, we also need others to assist us, to hold up our arms when we are tired, losing faith.
What do you think is the number one request I receive as a priest? The number one thing that people ask me, is to pray for them or to pray for a loved one. As a Pastor, everyday I pray for people of our parish. Some who have asked me, others who come to mind to me because I know they have some special need at this time.
I also know that one of the great strengths for me, is that there are many parishioners, many people who pray for me each day. The prayer of others for me is like Moses having the two others hold up his arms. There is a grace and strength that comes through the prayer of others for us.
This is called the Prayer of Intercession. To pray for someone else, to intercede for them. This prayer of intercession is so powerful and so helpful. It is a reminder that we are not alone in this life, that we are united in this journey, walking together in faith. Pray for others, become intercessors. Some people create an actual list, with a list of people they plan to pray for each day.
As I said, as a Pastor, one of the duties I have in my vocation is to pray for the people of my parish. For those who are parents, one of the duties of your vocation is to pray for your children. Never underestimate the power of a parent’s prayer, even when you seem to have no answer.
Persevere in that prayer, bother God. For those of you who are grandparents, your prayer for your grandchildren is so important, it might the only connection they have to the Lord.
You who are teachers, as a Catholic, teaching is a vocation and part of that should be the prayer of intercession for your students. For those of you who are business leaders, employers, you too should pray for your employees. All of us should pray regularly for our parish.
The prayer of intercession is very powerful, it is a sign of faith in God and a sign of our unity to others. When we pray for someone else, it changes us, it changes how we see them.
Intercede for others, like Moses holding up the staff of God to assist the people of Israel. Be intercessors, make the prayer of intercession part of your life. Yes, bother God, bother God with your prayers.
Second Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: January 20, 2019
Do we Catholics pray to Mary? Why do we pray to Mary? Some Christian groups criticize us for this Marian devotion. Well, this story of the miracle at the wedding feast in Cana from John’s Gospel indicates that already in the early Christian community, there was a practice of going to Mary as an intercessor.
In this story when there is no wine left at the wedding feast, it is the mother of Jesus who turns to Jesus and asks him to do something about this. You could say that Mary is interceding with her son on behalf of these people. So, when we pray to Mary to ask her to intercede to Jesus on our behalf, we are doing something that is connected with the practice of the very early New Testament Church.
As a priest, people come to me with many different requests. But, probably the biggest request is people asking me to pray for them. They are asking me to intercede on their behalf. I take this prayer of intercession very seriously. To pray for you the members of this parish is something I do every day. I know that it is also something most of you do on behalf of your children, your grandchildren, your students, your friends.
Prayer of intercession for others is a sign of love and connection. In fact, I know many, including myself, have a card on which they list those they want to pray for each day. You might want to create such an intercession list and keep it in your prayer book or bible.
Of course, Mary as the mother of Jesus is perhaps the greatest intercessor we can turn to when we have a need. To ask Mary to intercede for us with her Son. Mary simply says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” What better advice to guide us in our lives, to do whatever Jesus tells us. A good examination of conscience is to ask myself, what is Jesus telling me to do right now in my life?
When we follow the direction of Jesus then even the most ordinary thing can become special. Like water becoming wine. An ordinary parish can become something life giving. St. Paul in chapter 12 of the letter to the Corinthians offers that great vision of the Christian community, of the church. He speaks of a variety of gifts and services, all rooted in the same Spirit, all for the common good. This is what a Catholic parish is called to be.
In our parish I see that variety of gifts bringing life. Parents caring for their children and families with dedication. Single parents caring for their children often with great challenges. Grandparents supporting their grandchildren, often being the connection for them to the faith. Many young people in our parish who are striving to live the faith, to stay close to Jesus, even when there is little support in our society. What courage that takes.
Also, many seniors who have lived their faith for many years but continue to serve in the parish with great dedication. There are also many shut ins who no longer are able to be here with us on Sunday, but continue to pray for the church. Their prayer of intercession is also important.
I have met many new parishioners recently, we welcome you as you bring your gifts. All of these different gifts and services are important.
This is the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian unity. A time for us to pray for Christian unity among all Christians whom we see as brothers and sisters in Christ. The prayer of intercession is a gift and service that each one of us can offer to the church. If you are wondering what gift you can bring to this parish, I would recommend that you begin by offering a prayer for this parish each day.
We Catholics pray to Mary, the mother of Jesus, to intercede for us as we already saw was a practice in the New Testament. It should encourage us to also intercede for others, to pray to Jesus on their behalf.
The Church is a body of many people who all bring theirs gifts and services for the common good. What gifts and services do you bring? One gift that each of us can offer is the prayer of intercession. Pray for the Church, pray for Christian unity, pray for our parish.