Homily - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time-2019

Seek and you shall find.JPG

Lk 11:1-13 Gen 18:20-32 Col 2:12-14

Focus: Those who ask God will receive, those who seek God will find.

Function: Jesus’ call to us is to pray persistently, trustingly, and with openness toward God’s will and God’s guidance for our lives.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

A young man came to the abbot of a monastery and said, “I really like it here. But before I stay, I have one question. Does God do miracles?” The abbot looked at him and replied, “It all depends on what you think is a miracle. There are those who say that a miracle is when God does the will of the people, but we say that a miracle is when people do the will of God.”

In today’s gospel, we find Jesus at prayer. His disciples had seen him pray. So they approached him and asked him that he may teach them about prayer.

Part of Jesus’ answer is two parables. The persistence of the man knocking at his friend’s door finally moved the friend to open his home at midnight and fulfill the request. This was a major project: Quite possibly, in his small house with no light during the night, the friend had to climb over the sleeping bodies of other people who were laying on mats on the floor in the house in order to get to the door! But in the end everybody was awake anyway; and because he was a friend he knew he had to help! Persistence had the effect that the man did not walk away emptyhanded!

Or, Jesus says, think of a father whom his child asks for something to eat. Would a good father give anything harmful to his child? A snake instead of a fish, a scorpion instead on an egg? No, a good father wouldn’t do that. This was clear to every one of Jesus’ listeners. Even thinking of that made them shudder! Jesus’ conclusion: “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? ” If we pray with persistence and trust, we will receive the Holy Spirit with its fruits and gifts.

And Jesus teaches his disciples the “Our Father,” known to us as the Lord’s Prayer. The word that Jesus uses in his Aramaic language for Father was used by children. Abba – daddy. A very familiar and trusting address.

The first petitions in the prayer focus on God. “Father, hallowed be your name.” The name of a person in the Bible is this person’s reality. Thus this expression means, Father, may your reality, your presence, your gracious love, be experience by the people!

“Your kingdom come” says: O God, may your definitive reign on earth unfold, right here and now, which breaks down the boundaries that separate rich and poor, healthy and ill, men and women, clean and unclean, saint and sinner.

“Your will be done.” This line, found only in Matthew’s gospel, presupposes for Jesus that the will of our loving Abba-God is always salvation and happiness for human beings, even if doing the will of God may involve conversion, time and again..

Only then petitions for concrete human needs follow: for the daily bread, for forgiveness, for preservation in trial.

Dear sisters and brothers, Jesus’ message to us today is that those who ask God will receive, those who seek God will find, and to those who knock, God will open a door. Jesus’ call to us is to pray persistently, trustingly, and with openness toward God’s will and God’s guidance for our lives.

Here are some good questions for us to ask ourselves this morning:· How is the “Our Father” comforting to me? How do I find it challenging and difficult to live it? How can I practice persistent and trusting prayer in the morning, in the evening, and in the course of my day?

An elderly lady in Alabama, asked about her praying, said she always says these lines before saying the Lord’s Prayer itself: “Father, hallowed be your name…not mine; Your kingdom always…not mine
Your will be done…not mine.” She explained that this is a daily reminder to her to place herself humbly before God….as she begins her day…as she goes about her chores…and as she ends her day.

Indeed, as the abbot said to the young seeker, it is a miracle if we are really attentive to God’s will in our lives and do it. Thomas Merton (Thoughts in Solitude) once expressed it in this well-known way: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor, do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.” AMEN.

Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB