In Father Gregory Boyle's book, Barking to the Choir, he tells the story of dealing with an 18-year-old gang member named Robert, one of the most annoying employees at Homeboy Industries. (Father Boyle founded Homeboy Industries 25 years ago and it is now the largest gang intervention, rehab, and reentry program in the world.) Robert is whiny, complaining all the time about a whole host of things. This young man had a history though. From an early age he had raised himself because he had no parents to speak of. Yet, in spite of the obstacles, he still had managed to rent a single apartment and was surviving.
One day, when Boyle’s patience was thoroughly tested by Robert's litany of whining, he finished his complaint-fest by asking Father Greg for a blessing. He then approached the side of the desk and inclined his head. Boyle placed his hands on his shoulders and – at that moment - he remembered that yesterday had been Robert’s birthday. Father Boyle said this in his blessing/prayer: “Robert, I am so grateful that you came into the world. Glad you were born. Yesterday was a holy day. I am a rich man because you are in my life. Never stop thanking God for making you as God did – He did a great job. Even though – you can be a huge pain in the a**.” To which Robert looked up with a beaming grin. “The feeling is mutual,” he responded. (Barking at the Choir, p. 186)
Jesus tells us in this week's Gospel (Matthew 6:5-15) that our prayers are to be intimate, simple, and genuine. Father Boyle's prayer/blessing is intimate, simple and genuine. As Jesus has called us to be salt for the earth and a light for the world, where does our power come from? It comes from God through worship, scripture, fellowship, service, giving, and an intimate, simple, and genuine prayer life.
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