October 20/21, 2007
First Reading: Ex. 17:8-13
Of Jesus Christ Through Prayer and Persistence!
As parents, you are the first missionaries the first teachers that initiate the full completion of Jesus mission here on earth. You would ask me, How? Your home is the first school of catechism your home is the first missionary ground for the Church; your home is the first place of searching for intimacy with the Creator. And so if you have no intimacy with God, it is going to be difficult to teach your child who God is.
Within your homes of catechesis about God, there have been equal opposites:
Pain and joy, in that you conceive a baby, parents, family members, relatives, friends and everybody is happy. When a mother gives birth to baby innocent and obedient; everybody is happy and everything seems fine and dandy. But from 2 through to teen years, the innocence or childlike obedience stops, and as parents you ask one question, Oh my God, what do we have here? What in the name of God have I asked for? Some parents feel like giving the child up for adoption. Parents ask, Where did we go wrong? Nevertheless, you never give up on your child. You persist in training your children because you want them educate them in the faith and in the many ways to honour God. You baptize them and try as much as you can to bring up but soon to realize that your children are not interested in your Church and you never see them again. Thats the pain you have had to go through. There has been joy, too. [Name as many]. In your homes as missionary ground, there has been love and hatred, peace and justice, failure and celebration. In your homes, you have had to become judges of morality and spirituality over evil inclinations. In your homes, you have had to avoid confused and unfounded compromises as you teach your children to know right from wrong. In your homes, you have had to turn your lives over to God in order that you might become successful, and secondly, to dampen every spirit that opposes spiritual growth and intimacy with God. In your homes you have had to fight the good fight to the end as St. Paul instils in us. In your homes, you have had to persist and not give up; you have had to pray incessantly without ceasing! [ref. to Moses arms, the persistent woman who sought justice]. The writers must have had a great sense of humour! These stories tell us about one obvious and important thing. It is to PRAY & PRAY and to cultivate the habit of PRAYING incessantly without ceasing!
[Holding up high pictures of priests that have served the parish].
Like you parents, the first missionaries of Gods Word in the Church, these priests [pointing to their pictures and allowing parishioners to name them] have also served as missionaries of Gods Word in your midst. Like your experience in your homes, the first Church and missionary ground of Gods Word, these priests through their joys, pain, sorrow and at times remorse and frustrations have taken, broken and shared Gods Word with you faithfully. I believe PRAYER and PRAYING have kept their spirits so that they did not give up as you do not give up on your children. I am yet to see or hear a parent say to a judge, Yes, he deserves punishment; send him to jail! Parents pray rather for clemency!
President Calvin Coolidge says this about prayer or praying: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence [persistent prayer]. Talent will not. Genius will not. Education will not, for only persistence and determination bring success [and fulfillment]. The late Lucky Dube, a reggae star of South Africa thinks of prayer in this way [singing]:
Nothing, nothing but prayer; Nothing, nothing, nothing but prayer, but prayer; Nothing, nothing but prayer, may take your sorrows from your face. You better believe it! Nothing, nothing but prayer; Nothing, nothing, nothing but prayer, but prayer; Nothing, nothing but prayer, may take your sorrows from your face
See how musicians become missionaries of Gods Word even without knowing it! Look at how musicians preach the Gods Word of peace and love, justice and harmony! As missionaries, we all carry a cross that we must bear as we preach the Word of God through word, thoughts, deeds and actions. As we proclaim love and truth, justice and peace on earth, we will pay a price sometimes a deadly price as martyrs and Lucky Dube have paid with their lives.
Scripture tells us that God knows all our needs even before we ask him. So, why do we have to pray? Why must we continue to pester God with persistent prayer? It is because prayer or praying is the most powerful energy we can ever generate. Prayer or praying is as strong as gravity.
In my young life as a missionary, as a young priest in the priesthood and as parent the one thing that keeps me going is PRAYER. Prayer has become my one tool that helps me keep my head up above stormy waters stormy situations in my life. Jesus says the most important thing about prayer is to "pray without becoming weary." Therefore, as parents, as Church, as parishioners and as individuals sharing oneness at this Eucharistic meal, on the altar of sacrifice, I pray that we would allow the force of prayer and praying to lead us in our lives so that we may enjoy eternal union with God. Be a missionary of the Word of God and see where God will take you to!
Father John-Baptist Okai