Today’s Gospel is part of a discourse which Jesus gives to His followers on the way disciples should related to one another. His words make demands that seem impossible in the hard-nosed contemporary world. Yet, we are called to make these words of Jesus real in our daily living.
STRENGTHENING FAMILY BY PRAYING TOGETHER AT HOME
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel is a part of a discourse which Jesus gives to His followers about the practical way disciples are to relate to one other (Matthew 18:15-20). It is for each of us to make these words of Jesus real. We are to practice daily what Jesus tells us to do.
Jesus explains that intentional disciples pray together. Assuredly, common prayer never is opposed to private prayer.
Especially pleasing to Our Lord is family prayer. It is one of the absolute treasures we have received from previous generations and our responsibility to pass it on to next generations. Praying together always has been practiced by Christian families. I joyfully recall our own family prayer practices including grace before meals, thanksgiving after meals, night prayers before bed, the rosary, mom and dad both asking for what we can pray whenever we were distressed and tenderly leading prayer together. My parents showed us kids how to pray by having us pray with them.
I recall one moment praying together in our usual family way when my parents kindly had taken in a young neighbor boy while his parents were dealing with their own medical emergency. After beginning with the sign of the cross and praying together our simple meal together before dinner, the boy cast a quizzical glace and blurted, “Are you guys Italian or something?”
Acknowledging the utter uniqueness of every family and that actual customs vary from home to home, the importance of family prayer cannot be overstated. It ensures that God is not a stranger whom we go to visit in church once a week on Sunday morning. He is seen and treated as He really is, not merely in church, but also at home, because Jesus told us that, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them (v. 20).
Family prayer strengthens the entire family. Prayer enables us to understand what is happening around us and in the family. By means of praying together at family members we come to see that nothing exists apart from God’s plan. It especially helps us in those moments that without our being close to Him would be incomprehensible and defeating: the death of a loved one, the birth of a child with special needs, illness, financial hardship and all other crises. By communicating regularly with God together – praying together – families become united more strongly among themselves and with God.