on our knees

Have you heard the one about…

the two men who went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.” The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts themselves will be humbled, but the one who humbles themselves will be exalted.

The COVID-19 threat is conversation in every part of the world. We have been shaken from our comforts by an unexpected and unwelcome threat.

Perhaps pride is the societal sin of these early years of the twenty-first century. With technology and other modern resources we have come to think that we are able to achieve every goal and solve any problem if only we work harder and longer with greater focus and discipline. With this dedication we seem to achieve so much, we build and develop and invest and plan increasing the size of our projects and expanding our ambition. Who needs God (we think)? We can achieve all we need on our own.

And then a completely unexpected event brings us back to earth. We are grounded. We are on our knees.

In these days we are all suffering the effects of the Coronavirus. Some people do not realise that they are experiencing anxiety, instead commenting that this is no problem for them adding they are doing fine. Others are more grounded in reality aware that everything they had become attached to might slip from their grasp, acknowledging a healthy and realistic insecurity.

In this way an unwelcome enemy can present an unexpected opportunity for growth into greater personal and therefore spiritual maturity.

When we realise that we are beggars dependant on God for every breath we take then we are on our knees and open to the power and love of God. Until this moment we politely call on God to give us a hand with our projects, our families and our complex lives. This might be ok for a child, but a mature adult will be ready and eager to lose everything if it means knowing Jesus Christ and experiencing the love and power of God-with-us.

If we struggle to see this power and action in our own experience let’s turn to the gospels for evidence that this is a reliable method. In the gospels we see some good people who thought they were doing pretty well (think Pharisees). But those who became the intimate friends of Jesus were instead those who desperately called to Jesus from the depths of human suffering, addiction, anguish and sin. These people came as beggars with great capacity for Jesus. It was Jesus who did the rest making them the first saints and his greatest friends.

It all began for them when they were on their knees.

An Invitation:

  • Praying on our knees has gone out of fashion a bit. I notice that many people sit instead of kneeling before Mass, and during the parts of the Mass that were traditionally kneeling times. I remember too praying as a child kneeling beside my bed. I’m not sure how it happened that I let go of that practice. SO here’s the invitation…take a minute or two to kneel in prayer during the day, perhaps at the bedside to begin or end the day or at another time when you think of it. This posture itself causes a disposition of humility which is a powerful invitation to Jesus…
  • Early in the week I was interviewed about the Coronavirus and Liturgy. If you have a spare half hour you can listen at this link. 
18 Responses to "on our knees"
  1. I will listen to your interview later Fr John and thank you for it. Yes it has really hurt to have the Mass taken away, for me it is the loss of the daily Mass/Liturgy that would bring a small community (10 to 25) together daily. It was a little powerhouse of daily prayer for the whole community. We looked out for each other. I am in hope that when our Bishops and Priests have time to re evaluate that these small communities can return. Keep well Fr John, blessings and courage.

  2. Like Mary above, I too belong to a small community where we have both weekly house Masses and weekly meetings to use the Lectio Divinia method of unpacking Scripture. We are grieving now that these resources are no longer available. We must all now find other ways to nourish ourselves and feel connected. Thank you for your daily posts.

  3. John your on line reflections become even more life-giving seeing we cannot assemble…
    I noticed Pope Francis kneeling before Mary…

  4. Thank you for this. For me its really thought provocing.
    How in the past I was certainly a beggar, especially when in trouble. Now I still beg but its for the ability to accept and the strength to grow from it. Personally I find it harder to remain concentrated sitting to pray, kneeling or standing helps me to remain more focussed.

  5. Such an appropriate reminder of staying connected with God in a way that is so simple at a time when what we have become familiar with is precarious.

  6. I reiterate Mary’s comments. Daily mass was a privelege and it will hurt. We too shared a small daily community of mass sharers but we all have the opportunity here to visit the Lord at perpetual Adoration and we can kneel in humility and feel the closeness to Him as we did during Holy Mass and reception of His Body and Blood. You are correct Father and the kneeling act will make our praying more special to Him. Will watch your interview today. Thank you for Food for Faith. We need these “extras” more than ever now. Prayers for you and your seminarians especially our ChCh deacon who will be concerned about his family who were going to be here for the ordination. His Will be done!!

  7. Just a reminder that if you are able to get EWTN on your TV or if not on your computer then you can see the mass at 10.00am each day. OK it is not with your friends but it is there.

  8. Just a reminder that if you are able to get EWTN on your TV or if not on your computer then you can see the mass at 10.00am each day. OK it is not with your friends but it is there.

  9. Thank you for grounding me today. I’ll pray for growth through the anxiety. Thank you Father John, your reflection today is particularly helpful. We are blessed by your Lenten reflections.

  10. Such a poignant reminder of the impermanence of so many of our worldly attachments … our work, finances, possessions…even our health and people in our lives. Everything passes, but God will never change, He is our rock and foundation that no disaster/illness can separate us from.

  11. Amen thank you Father for reflection really helps us at this time even more that we cant go to our masses God Bless

  12. yes, praying on our knees is respect to our lord , we have forgotten jesus we have been grounded. yet a man goes on his knees to ask the woman he love to be a part of his life for good and for worst for sickness and in health
    jesus is asking us now. he want to be a part of our life, the life given by him, God is not there for only emergencies,on our knees jesus to praise you.

    • Thanks Fr John.
      Maybe it will make people thirst for God at a deeper level. I live in the country so don’t have easy access to weekday Masses. So I have my weekday missal , I can always take a message out of the readings and the gospel.
      And I have my compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is good to refer to. And the bible is sitting there just waiting to be opened ! And at this time it is good to check our neighbours and vulnerable elderly are okay. Human kindness goes a long way.

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