Theme: WE PRAY TO GOD OUR FATHER BECAUSE HE IS LOVE, MERCY, FORGIVENESS AND SALVATION
- Genesis 18:20-32;
- Psalm 137 (138):1-3. 6-8. R/ v. 3;
- Colossians 2:12-14
- Luke 11:1-13
Today is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to pray to God our Father, because he is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! The gospel today tells us about the Lord’s Prayer! It is taken from the gospel of St. Luke.
The Lord’s Prayer in St. Luke is different from that of St. Matthew which is called the “Our Father” and which we pray during Mass! The Lord’s Prayer of St. Luke has no “Our” before “Father”. It is more original and closer to Jesus’ teaching. It has only 5 petitions, while St. Matthew has 7 petitions. St. Matthew favors the number 7!
To begin with, the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father is the prayer of a “child” to the Father! A child is totally dependent on the Father and he trusts the Father totally. The Father on the other hand protects and provides for the child. The child without the Father is totally helpless and hopeless! That is why the priests pray the Our Father during Mass with outstretched, upwards and open palms!
Thus in the first petition of the Our Father we ask God our Father to make his name holy. In the second petition we ask God our Father to make his kingdom come. And after praying first that the Father’s will be done, we pray for our own needs. Thus in the third petition of the Our Father we pray for daily bread, especially the bread of the Eucharist! In the fourth petition, we pray for forgiveness of our sins as we forgive others who sin against us. And in the fifth petition we pray that we may not lose our faith (apostasy; NJBC), especially in times of persecution!
The second part of the gospel tells us that we have to pray persistently and perseveringly. We have to pray the Our Father persistently and perseveringly. The Our Father is the model of all prayers taught to us by Jesus himself! It is a prayer of faith. Without faith we cannot pray. Again, it is the prayer of a “child” totally dependent on the Father and totally trusting in the Father! All our prayers have to be modeled after the Our Father and we have to pray all our prayers persistently and perseveringly!
The third part of the gospel tells us that our prayers will be effective, that is, God will answer our prayers! Indeed God answers our prayers by giving us the Holy Spirit! And it is in the power of the Holy Spirit that God’s name will be made holy in us, with us and through us! And it is in the power of the Holy Spirit that God’s kingdom will come in us, with us and through us!
And it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that God will give us our daily bread, especially the bread of the Eucharist! And it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that God will forgive our sins so that we will also forgive the sins of others. And it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we will not lose our faith and apostatize even in times of severe persecutions.
The first reading tells us that Abraham prayed persistently and perseveringly to God who is just and merciful! (NJB; IBC) The first reading tells us that God wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sins, but Abraham prayed and bargained with God not to destroy the just men with the wicked men, because it was unjust to destroy the just men with the wicked men, and because God was just! Abraham prayed and bargained with God persistently and perseveringly from fifty, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty to just ten just men and God agreed not to destroy the ten just men with the wicked men! In being just to the just men, God was also being merciful to the wicked men!
The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation! Thus the response:
“On the day I called, you answered me, O Lord.” (Ps 137:3; SM)
That is, ‘On the day I called, you saved me, O Lord.’ The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-3) tell us that God saves us because God loves us. God is faithful love! The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 6-8) tell us to pray to God because he loves us and saves us! (CSB; NJBC)
The second reading tells us that through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Jesus has forgiven us our sins. He has nailed our sins to the cross! And we receive this forgiveness in the sacrament of Baptism! Thus we read in the caption of the second reading:
“He has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.” (Col 2:13; SM)
Today we thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit which makes us call God, “Our Father”, and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may make his name holy and so that we may make his kingdom come on earth! God bless you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.