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What If We Prayed?

First Reading: Amos 8:4-7

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy
and destroy the poor of the land!
“When will the new moon be over,” you ask,
“that we may sell our grain,
and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?
We will diminish the ephah,
add to the shekel,
and fix our scales for cheating!
We will buy the lowly for silver,
and the poor for a pair of sandals;
even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!”
The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Never will I forget a thing they have done!

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8

R. (cf. 1a, 7b) Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.
Praise, you servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
both now and forever.
R. Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.
High above all nations is the LORD;
above the heavens is his glory.
Who is like the LORD, our God, who is enthroned on high
and looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
R. Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.
He raises up the lowly from the dust;
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor
to seat them with princes,
with the princes of his own people.
R. Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.

Second Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-8

Beloved:
First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,
petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
for kings and for all in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life
in all devotion and dignity.
This is good and pleasing to God our savior,
who wills everyone to be saved
and to come to knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God.
There is also one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as ransom for all.
This was the testimony at the proper time.
For this I was appointed preacher and apostle
— I am speaking the truth, I am not lying —,
teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray,
lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.

Gospel: Luke 16:1-13

Jesus said to his disciples,
“A rich man had a steward
who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said,
‘What is this I hear about you?
Prepare a full account of your stewardship,
because you can no longer be my steward.’
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do,
now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that,
when I am removed from the stewardship,
they may welcome me into their homes.’
He called in his master’s debtors one by one.
To the first he said,
‘How much do you owe my master?’
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’
He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note.
Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’
Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’
He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’
The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note;
write one for eighty.’
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
“For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

NAB

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About a month ago I started meeting with a friend once a week to pray. We’re both moms of young children and have felt an increasing spiritual dryness since becoming mothers. So we made a resolution to pray together once a week. We don’t worry about picking up our houses, or preparing refreshments, we just share our struggles and joys and needs, and we pray for them.

And you know what? We have had prayers answered!

We have had minor health problems clear up, found reliable babysitters, seen improvements in our children’s sleep, experienced less stress about our husband’s jobs and schooling, and most importantly, we have seen our own attitudes changing, and our desires for God increase. We are praying, and the Lord is hearing us. Even when it doesn’t feel like our prayers are answered how we wanted them to be, we are seeing God’s grace working in those times, too.

The First Reading today points out corruption aimed at the poor and vulnerable. We see plenty of that today with the persecution of brothers and sisters around the world, poverty, abortion, and an increase of violence. In the Gospel we hear the parable of the dishonest steward, who used his talents and resources to ensure his material comfort. This reminds me of another problem in our society. We place so much value on amassing wealth and things. The idea that I should be anything other than super happy and extremely comfortable is absurd.

So what do we do in the face of all this corruption and selfishness? The answer is in the Second Reading, where we are called to pray. It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray. And we’re not just called to pray for the little things. Saint Paul was urging the early Church to pray for kings and leaders as well. Big stuff! What if we prayed every day for the big problems in our world? And what if we took the energy and determination of the dishonest steward and applied it to our pursuit of holiness and justice? What kind of changes might we see? Prayer is a powerful tool, but you have to use it for it to be effective! If God is listening to my prayers for a few extra hours of sleep, surely He is listening to our prayers for the world too.

[bctt tweet=”Prayer is a powerful tool, but you have to use it for it to be effective.” username=”blessedisshe__”]

Do you have a good habit of prayer? If not, start by setting aside one morning or evening a week for prayer. Invite a friend to join you for some extra accountability.

photo by Corynne Olivia

Anna Coyne is a wife, mother, musician, knitter, gardener, and convert to the Catholic faith.  Read more about her here.

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