Warm greetings to you, people of prayer. On this Sunday of Forgiveness in the Eastern Church (on which I post this), I ask for your forgiveness for all of my weaknesses and faults. Let us continue to pray for each other with merciful hearts as we journey with Fr. Matta in these desert places.
Fr. Matta creates a metaphor of God as the Gardener whose ultimate hope is that what He has purchased for His vineyard (us) will bear fruit. He relates this to how fruit is what binds the heart of a gardener to the tree he has planted while he is watering and tending it. However, with us, “The ripe fruit of the blood that was shed, and the conscious response to the work of his love and suffering, is our prayer.”
- Are you able to relate to this metaphor and see God waiting expectantly for fruit to come forth from you?
- At the end of this section, Fr. Matta quotes Christ in the Gospel of John (4: 23) saying that the Father “seeks” worshipers (prayerful people). Why is our prayer so important to God?
Fr. Matta offers some stern words for the state of our world – and the Church – pointing out how we have “fallen back to the worship of idols” and how fear of God is nearly absent from our world. He goes so far as to allege that a person may live their lives entirely without God and escape the notice of anyone – or “even be praised and commended!”
- Given this state of affairs, why is prayer so necessary for us?
- As we review what Fr. Matta has written on this, perhaps we could reflect on our personal experiences – when we have needed prayer, when/how it has helped us.
- As a further step, we might reflect on times when we missed opportunities to employ prayer when facing some of the challenges and provocations that our lives in the world offer.
- Fr. Matta writes: “Prayer is an inward light that exposes the blemishes and defects of our daily conduct.” Can I learn to welcome this light and not resist it out of shame?
As noted above, at the end of this section, Fr. Matta cites the words of Christ from the Gospel of John and comments, “the prayer that is in spirit and truth is the only prayer acceptable to God.”
- What does this mean, “spirit and truth”? Why is it vital that we pray in spirit and truth?
Much to reflect and pray with here. Once again, God willing, I will offer some comments on the Sayings of the Fathers for this section in a few days. Please share any reflections or questions you have for our community.