17th Ordinary Sunday: Genesis 18:20-32; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13
Today the obvious theme of the first reading and the Gospel is prayer. The Psalm, too, always a prayer in itself, acknowledges, “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.”
When we say God answers prayer, we usually mean that he gives us what we ask, as Jesus promises. But the parable in the Gospel shows that we may need to ask repeatedly. Abraham, in the first reading, understood this. He kept returning to the same subject. At La Salette, Mary said, “If I want my Son not to abandon you, I am obliged to plead with him constantly.”
God tells Abraham of the “outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah.” There is an echo here of Genesis 4:10, where God says to Cain: “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!” God cannot ignore the gravity of the sin. The time has come to act.
When the Beautiful Lady speaks of the heavy arm of her Son, she implies a similar outcry. The situation warrants an urgent response.
What is the outcry today? What should be at the heart of our prayer? Where are we called to bring our charism to bear?
Abraham hoped his prayer would be heard because he had a special relationship with God. Even more so, the Blessed Virgin, as the “Queen Mother,” could rely on a favorable hearing from her Son, but she needed a response from her people as well: submission, conversion, trust.
Jesus encourages us to pray with confidence. This does not mean we are entitled to everything we ask the Lord for. God, whom Jesus compares to a caring parent, knows what is best for us.
That said, God takes the initiative, as St. Paul writes: “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.”
In fact, through the trials of life, God may actually be guiding us to prayer, whether we are immediately aware of it or not, so that he may communicate with us and direct us toward his plan for our lives. Let us therefore persist in prayer and in living out our faith.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse