July 25 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Readings: Gn 18:20-32; Col 2:12-14; Lk 11:1-13
The readings this Sunday focus our attention on prayer as a gateway to relationship with God and with one another. In the first reading from Genesis, it is quite easy to miss the point that Abraham is indeed in prayer that sounds like a bargain with the Lord to whom Abraham has just offered hospitality. It is an interesting bargain in which Abraham is quite successful in pleading for God's mercy upon the innocent people of Sodom. This prayer of Abraham is an example of perseverance in prayer. The reading offers us a model of prayer as though God was a familiar friend; someone we can converse with as we walk along. But is is important to realize that Abraham's prayer is not for himself but for others.
The Gospel offers a model of prayer we could use always. The Lord's prayer as found in Luke is slightly different from the prayer we normally use which is from the Gospel of Matthew. In the gospel passage, Jesus is at prayer and the disciples are impressed. They want to pray as he has just prayed. They realize that they do not know how to pray as Jesus does, and so they request: “Teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples”. They want to be in union with the Father and not just to recite some words. After giving a model of prayer, Jesus offers two brief parables one of which is quite humorous, the parable of the friend at mid-night. This man goes to his neighbor at mid-night to ask for bread because he has guests who have just arrived. His friend, already asleep, wakes up, and says: “Are you crazy? It is mid-night, my wife, the kids are asleep and the baby may wake up and begin crying. I will disturb everybody if I get up. The parable ends with the persistence of the the neighbor who then gets the bread. Jesus concludes, if that is how your earthly friend will respond to you, how much more will your heavenly Father? The second parable is about dads and their kids and Jesus concludes, if earthly dads know how to provide good things to their kids, how much more will your heavenly Father? So Ask, Seek and Knock. God is listening and will even give you the greatest gift, the Holy Spirit. So what do we learn in what Jesus teaches us as a model of all prayer in the Lord’s Prayer? 1) Jesus teaches us that all prayer should always be addressed to God the creator of everything, the origin of all things and Father of all. 2)We do this by sanctifying God's holy name in reverence and respect. Hallowed be thy name. 3)In prayer, we need to pray for the establishment of God's kingdom, which is a radical re-ordering of the world to be a place where God’s values are the standard and thus the need to submit to God’s will. 4) In our prayer we should ask our Father to provide our daily sustenance, which implies our sharing with those who have none. Give us, not “give me”. But above all we pray for spiritual sustenance, the bread of life, the Eucharist. 5) We ask for forgiveness on condition we too forgive others. 6) We ask the Father help us, not to be enticed, lured, seduced, attracted or fascinated by something that is not of God’s intention, by something that will draw us away from God. 7) We pray that the Father will lead us, free us, release us, rescue and save us, from all that is corrupt, destructive, painful. There are four key points that I want to leave with you on the message of this Sunday: 1) The readings invite us to reflect on the importance of prayer; 2) They offer us a model on how to pray; 3) They teach us on how to enter into an intimate relationship with the Father through prayer as Jesus did; and 4) Like the friend at mid-night we need to persevere always and never give up in prayer.
©2010 John S. Mbinda