Confident Prayer and A Basketball Legend - Family Reflection Video
It is said that one day, Bob Cousy was shooting foul shots in the Boston Garden, and making the sign of the Cross before each shot, with the coaches looking on. When the legendary former Boston Celtics Coach and General Manager, Red Auerbach, who was Jewish, leaned over to his good friend on the sidelines, Cardinal Richard Cushing, he said, "Cardinal, when your boys make the Sign of the Cross before shooting, does that help them?"
Cardinal Cushing responded to Coach Auerbach without a moment’s hesitation: "Yes, if they have talent."
This came to mind when I was trying to make sense out today's first reading. The Israelites were losing the battle so they decided to bring God and the Ark of the Covenant, their secret weapon, into play. But this led to a catastrophic loss of 30,000 men, and the capture of the Ark of the Covenant by the Philistines.
Were the Israelites punished for bringing God into the picture?
A little background helps understand this disaster. God was present among the Children of Israel in the Ark of the Covenant, which was in the Meeting Tent in Shiloh.
Eli, the prophet, and leader of the Judges, had set his two sons Hophni and Phinehas to guard the entrance to the Sacred Meeting Tent and the Ark of the Covenant. Instead, they blasphemed the Lord by mistreating Israel and having relations with women at the gate of the Meeting tent. They were warned by their father Eli, but they continued to act as unfaithful guards betraying the Lord.
When the sons of Eli brought the Ark of the Covenant into battle, these unworthy servants brought disaster upon all Israel, their father ‘s house and name and they themselves died in battle.
They are a graphic reminder that prayers must be joined to just and right action to be effective. The leper in today’s Gospel illustrates this with his confident plea to Jesus, kneeling down and begging Him, saying, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." And Jesus responds, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately.
So, what is important is to join our sincere and confident prayer to right action, as the man with leprosy does. In family life, children whose misbehavior is overlooked by parents can bring great harm to their parents and entire family even if they wrap themselves in pious practices while continuing to offend God and neighbor with unjust and abusive behavior. Sincere prayer and right behavior are pleasing to God and a blessing on the entire family. Prayer, joined to right action, never knows defeat. Amen.
- Father Willy's inspirational homily was recorded live this morning during Mass at the Father Peyton Center. Please view the video on our Facebook page.(You don't need a Facebook account to view.)
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About Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C.
Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C. is President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. He entered Holy Cross Fathers in 1964. He earned a Bachelors in Philosophy from Stonehill College in 1967 and a Masters in Theology from the University of Notre Dame in 1971. In addition to English, Father Willy is conversant in French and Spanish. He's a native of Old Town, Maine and one of 12 children. He remains a diehard fan of the Boston Red Sox, even though he has served as Chaplain for the Los Angeles Dodgers.