Reflection for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time-Cycle C

Image result for praying hands with rosary

FIRST READING        Genesis 18:20-32

In those days, the LORD said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me.  I mean to find out.”  While Abraham’s visitors walked on farther toward Sodom, the LORD remained standing before Abraham.  Then Abraham drew nearer and said:  “Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?  Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to make the innocent die with the guilty so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike!  Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?”  The LORD replied, “If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”  Abraham spoke up again:  “See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am but dust and ashes!  What if there are five less than fifty innocent people?  Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?”  He answered, “I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there.”  But Abraham persisted, saying “What if only forty are found there?”  He replied, “I will forbear doing it for the sake of the forty.”  Then Abraham said, “Let not my Lord grow impatient if I go on.  What if only thirty are found there?”  He replied, “I will forbear doing it if I can find but thirty there.”  Still Abraham went on, “Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?”  The LORD answered, “I will not destroy it, for the sake of the twenty.”  But he still persisted:  “Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time.  What if there are at least ten there?”  He replied, “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”

SECOND READING             Colossians 2:12-14

Brothers and sisters:  You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.  And even when you were dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.

GOSPEL            Luke 11:1-13

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.”  He said to them, “When you pray, say:  Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”  And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed.  I cannot get up to give you anything.’  I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.  “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?  Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?  If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

My sisters and brothers in the Lord

Persevere in prayer!  Keep asking God for all you need!  God hears us and answers us if we keep pestering Him.  Both the first reading and the Gospel today insist that God will hear our prayers if we just keep asking.  The second reading adds that God reaches out to us in Jesus, to take away our sins and transgressions.  Our God is a God who loves us and always reaches out to us.

The first reading today is from the Book of Genesis and hands on to us this tradition that Abraham was so close to God the he, Abraham, could negotiate with God.  In the outcome of this story we can understand one of the Jewish traditions that insists that there are always a number of holy people in the world and because of their prayers, the world goes on and God does not destroy it.  The challenge is for you and for me:  are willing to give our lives for the salvation of the world?  Are willing to lives of intercession for others, even when there seems to much evil at work in our world?  Are we willing to follow the way of the Lord?

The second reading, from the Letter to the Colossians, then speaks to us about what happens in Baptism.  We are already dead by our sins, but we are buried with Christ in baptism so that we can receive His life and be raised up in Him.  We are given new life in such a way that we live in Christ and our sins and transgression are forgiven and we are given life.  This is only experienced at a spiritual or mystical level but we can know that it is true when we try to live for the Lord.  So many of us have had this experience of living in sin and then sensing a freedom that we did not know that we have, and beginning to live in grace and freedom.  This is not about a psychological shift.  It is a spiritual change that is a gift of grace within us.  Even when we fail and fall again, Christ is there to draw us into His life.

The Gospel of Luke today contains a version of the “Our Father,” and then moves on to tell us:  keep on knocking at the door of God, keep on insisting with God, keep asking until God responds.  In order to do this, of course, we have to want something intensely enough that we are willing to insist with God.  Lots of us want things but not enough to ask God for them.  Lots of us suffer, but are uneasy about asking God to help us in our sufferings.  Lots of us find sinfulness in ourselves but we are not entirely convinced yet that we want to be free of it.

Jesus instead invites to look at our lives and decide what we want, what is truly good for us:  then ask and ask and ask.  God will give it to us if we persevere in asking for the good.

May we know what we truly need in our lives, my sisters and brothers, and have the courage to ask for it until we receive it.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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1 Response to Reflection for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time-Cycle C

  1. Robert John Bennett says:

    I think there are many of us who can confirm from our own experience that “God hears us and answers us if we keep pestering Him.” Of course, it may take a LOT of pestering. After all, St. Monica pestered Him for twenty years about the sinful life of her son, who eventually became a saint – Augustine.

    As for the Jewish tradition that in every generation there are 36 righteous men, “Tzadikim,” whose presence saves the world from destruction – that tradition almost seems intuitively correct, doesn’t it? I mean, when you look around at the world as it is today, what ELSE could be saving it from destruction?

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