Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time July 24, 2016
Reading 1 Gn 18:20-32
Responsorial Psalm Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8
- Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me. Reading 2 Col 2:12-14
Alleluia Rom 8:15bc
Gospel Lk 11:1-13
Homily— July 23 & 24, 2016
The first reading today is from Genesis and is a continuation from last week but this part was skipped over and I find it to be interesting. “The men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom; Abraham was walking with them, to see them on their way. The Lord reflected: ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, now that he is to become a great and populous nation, and all the nations of the earth are to find blessing in him? Indeed, I have singled him out that he may direct his sons and his posterity to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord may carry into effect for Abraham the promises he made about him.’” (Genesis 18:16-18)
It is the Lord who came to visit Abraham and Sarah with two of his messengers. When “the Lord” lets Abraham in on his plan for Sodom and Gomorrah Abraham questions “the Lord” about whether it is just to take the innocent with the guilty. In effect Abraham is asking God, “What’s more important, the sin of the guilty or the goodness of the innocent?” Then Abraham asks if he will spare the cities if there are 50 innocent people. When “the Lord” promises to spare the cities for 50 innocent people Abraham dares to keep asking until “the Lord” states he will spare the cities for 10 innocent people!! Don’t you just love the interplay between Abraham and “the Lord”? There is great respect, daring, and confidence in their relationship for Abraham to keep driving a little harder bargain with the Lord to protect the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Won’t you like Abraham with you when you are bargaining to buy a car? Or maybe Abraham could come with us when we meet Jesus at the end of our life and tell the Lord why we should enter heaven!!
In the gospel we see the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. Different communities of disciples develop ways to pray that are distinctive for them. Evidently John taught his disciples a way to pray. Today we experience the Lucan form of the Our Father which has five petitions. It begins with Jesus’ personal, individual address to God as caring, provident, gracious, and a loving parent—Father. “Hallowed be your name”—may your name be sanctified—may all the evils which defile your creation be removed, especially those in our hearts. “Your kingdom come”—God’s kingdom breaks the boundaries separating rich and poor, healthy and sick, men and women, clean and unclean, saint and sinner. “Give us each day our daily bread”—food that sustains life and is God’s gracious gift that is shared with others, sinners included, at meals of reconciliation. “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us”—Jesus ‘ community, composed of sinners, prays in confidence to its gracious Father-God for forgiveness. Disciples who are closed to forgiving each and every person who has sinned against them do not have a proper view of Jesus’ God, who is merciful to all. “Do not subject us to the final test”—may our ever-loving God preserve us from abandoning our faith, the Christian Way.
Jesus teaches us the importance of asking for help and being persistent when necessary. You can certainly identify with what is going to happen if a friend asking for three loaves of bread to feed another friend who comes unannounced keeps knocking. Soon the whole household will be awake and the children will be crying. It is much wiser to get up and share the three loaves with the friend who wants to share them with a hungry friend who has just arrived.
Just as a parent knows how to share something good with a hungry child so much more does God know how to share something good with us when we pray. God may not give us what we ask but will give us a good gift. The two examples that Jesus uses (neighborly friendship and father-son kinship) reveal that what is always granted through prayer is a deeper relationship with God and others. God gives us a better gift than material things when we ask. God gives us the Holy Spirit.
Every prayer is answered by God, but according to God’s will and orientation of the divine heart. Our prayer does not change God; it changes us. As we surrender to our prayer, we become more like our Teacher, Jesus, who prays boldly, persistently, and authentically.
Do spend time in prayer each day with the Lord. It is the most important time of your day.