Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), July 28, 2013 – Gen 18, 30-32; Col 2, 12-14; Lk 11, 1-13
He spent the night in prayer to God (Lk 6, 12)
The example of Jesus who has just finished praying draws a disciple. He asks: “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He is requesting for Jesus’ followers not just any prayer, but rather, one that will distinguish them from the followers of other teachers. Right away, Jesus tells them what to say when they pray.
Jesus’ disciples’ distinguishing prayer recognizes, first of all, the fatherhood of God—in the human and patriarchal manner of speaking analogically of divine things. This recognition makes known that we who belong to the Christian community should not be narcissistic, presumptuous of our special characteristic. To call upon God as Father surely denotes immediate relationship and deep intimacy; it also demands that we do not close ourselves to those who are different from us nor deem them as worthless. They are children of God, too, and therefore, our brothers and sisters.
We then cannot do as the scribes and the Pharisees, puffed-up with self-righteousness. They set themselves apart from the rest of humanity they characterize as immoral. They seek for themselves people’s greetings of reverence, love places and titles of honor, dress up in a special and striking way, carried away by human respect and careerism. They want self-aggrandizement and are anxious and worried about obtaining, by hook or by crook, their promotions in the religious establishment to assure for themselves a life of plenty and ease.
The true imitators of Jesus, on the other hand, live up to the Lord’s Prayer. Hence, they exert effort to hallow the Father’s name. They do not put ahead of the kingdom of God and his righteousness any of their concerns, not even for things they need in order to live. Though, faithful to the Savior’s teaching, they ask the Father to give them each day their daily bread and not to subject them to the final test, they know that their collaboration in the project of the kingdom is the guarantee that all the other things will be given to them besides and that no evil will befall them even it seems to them that they are just about to perish (Common Rules of the C.M., II, 2).
And they pray, yes, insistently and perseveringly. Their insistence and perseverance mean firm and daring faith, and also intense desire that helps those who do not know how to pray as they ought to refine their petitions and widen their hearts to receive the best gift, the Holy Spirit. They also indicate total surrender: admitting their being at the bottom almost of nothingness, their utter poverty, they look to the Father to lift them up and fill them with good things.
These humble and poor folks know first hand the mercy of the Father who brings them to life in Christ and forgives their transgressions. Such personal experience teaches them to be merciful also like their Father and to forgive. In contrast to the Pharisees, they do not focus so much on the guilty, the “greedy, dishonest, adulterous,” as on the innocent and on the Father’s justice and mercy.
And if they remember at Mass that a sister has something against them, they leave and go first and reconcile with her, and then return to the celebration.
Ross Reyes Dizon