Thursday, April 20, 2017

The People of God are all One

     Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr, says that the God who preaches peace and unity did not want us to pray by ourselves in private or by ourselves alone.  We do not say "My Father, who art in heaven," nor "Give me this day my daily bread."  It is not for himself/herself alone that each person asks to be forgiven, not to be led into temptation or to be delivered from evil.  Rather, we pray in public as a community, and not for one individual but for all.
     God is then the teacher of harmony, peace and unity, and desires each of us to pray for all men, even as he bore all men in himself alone.  The three young men shut up in the furnace of fire observed this rule of prayer.  United in the bond of the Spirit they uttered together the same prayer.     The witness of holy Scripture describes this incident for us, so that we might imitate them in our prayer.  Then all three began to sing in unison, blessing God.  Even though Christ had not yet taught them to pray, nevertheless, they spoke as with one voice.  It is for this reason that their prayer was persuasive and efficacious.  For their simple and spiritual prayer of peace merited the presence of the Lord. 
     So too, after the ascension we find the apostles and the disciples praying together in this way.  Scripture relates:  They all joined together in continuous prayer, with the women including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.  The urgency and the unity of their prayer declares that God, who fashions a bond of unity among those who live in his home, will admit into his divine home for all eternity only those who pray in unity.
     Saint Cyprian has given us much to consider.  Of course, we are not faced with a fiery furnace these days, but an abundance of snow.   Even so, did we know how powerful we are when we pray together? What a great grace we are given when we come to Mass and ask for forgiveness and pray as a parish.  To speak as one voice, to learn harmony, peace and unity is a blessing.  A blessing we receive whenever two or three are gathered together, and on Sunday, how powerful we must be when we pray as a community. kvs

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