Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 27-28, 2019
From Fr. Anthony Ligato
When you Pray, how do you pray?
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
When you pray, how do you pray? Do we pray thinking you can change God’s mind? Do you bombard Heaven with petitions? Do you pray offering thanks to God for the blessings of your daily life? Are your prayers structured such as the Our Father or the Hail Mary? Are your prayers structured more toward devotional prayer, The Rosary, The Divine Mercy Chaplet, the St. Jude the Apostle Novena, the St. Michael the Archangel Prayer. How does Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament fit into your daily life? Do you come into church and pray before the Blessed Sacrament, reflecting on the Suffering and Death of Jesus Christ which has made the Holy Eucharist possible, after all this is our daily bread?
Have you ever thought to ask Jesus how you should prayer? After all, one of Jesus’ Disciples askes Him that question, “Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:113) Here is how Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “He said to them, when you pray, say; Father, hallowed be your name.” When we say these words, we are pronouncing God’ name holy and esteemed. We give worship and veneration to the Holy Name of God. God’s name is so holy we don’t even say the name of God, Yahweh. Jesus gives us an intimate name for God as Father, Abba. Abba, Father evokes a personal and close relationship with God. Whenever we pray and in whatever way we pray, we are evoking a personal relationship with God.
Jesus goes onto proclaim God’ Kingdom will reign, and our prayers can bring about the reign of God’s Kingdom, “Your Kingdom come,” expresses that there is a relationship between God and the righteous. How does one become righteous? By living out God’s Kingdom in our hearts, minds and souls and with all our strength every day of our lives.
Jesus tells us in the Our Father that He will provide us with our daily bread, “Give us each day our daily bread.” The Lord sustains us with His presence in the Holy Eucharist, our daily bread is provided to us by the church daily.
The next petition in the Our Father reminds us all why Jesus Christ came into the world, “And forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us.” We could be forgiven our sins through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross. In turn if we pray seeking forgiveness, we then must pray for the ability to forgive others.
The final petition is a seeking of God’s mercy, “And do not subject us to the final test.” We pray that God will strengthen us for the final judgment and the coming of God’s kingdom. It also has a present dimension, that we would have strength to endure all the tests that come our way in daily life.
The Our Father invites us into a personal relationship of prayer with God. This invitation again is a sign of God’s hospitality for us. The parable Jesus offers following the Our Father is an indication of that relationship of hospitality. The friend who comes at midnight asking for three loaves of bread because he has a friend whom he wants to offer hospitality too. But the friend says, go away it is late. The parable tells us that he may not give the loaves because of friendship, he will give it because of the man persistence. Simply put, he will get up and give him the loaves to get rid of him. He ultimately offers the friend hospitality by giving the loaves.
Now take Abraham as another example, in today’s first reading from Genesis 18:2032; Abraham thought he was changing God’s mind as he presented in a persistent fashion the argument that if there was even one innocent person in Sodom and Gomorrah wouldn’t he spare the cities to protect that innocent person? Abraham thought he was presenting a persuasive argument to God that if he could find 50 people who were hospitable to God in their hearts. Abraham keeps lowering the number and God is willing to go there with him. God is seeking a relationship of hospitality with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. God is willing to spare all for the sake of one believer. God was looking for one person who would offer God hospitality in their hearts.
As you pray, are you willing to enter into a personal relationship with God? When you say Abba, Father, you are calling God by the most loving and intimate name we can possibly call God. That name, was given to us by our Lord and by Jesus. Teaching us to call God, Father, we have been offering hospitality in the most personal relationship, that of the Father and the Son.
Yours in Christ,