SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME 2019

Homily ·Ordinary time
By Archbishop Gomez
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
July 28, 2019


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1

In our Gospel today, we have just heard our Lord’s beautiful teaching about how to pray.

Jesus is teaching us, first, his own prayer: The Our Father. The words he uses to talk to God the Father.

And then he teaches us the need for persistence in our prayer. And finally the assurance that the Father in heaven is always listening and ready to grant us what we need.

So I was reflecting this week on today’s passage of the Gospel, I was thinking that the words of the Our Father are probably some of the first words of Jesus that most of us learn growing up. We learn these words when our parents first were teaching us how to pray.

And in my reflecting, I was thinking this kind of tells us that for Jesus, prayer is not something complicated. I mean, we do not need to be a theologian or an expert in religion to pray.

Prayer is, as we know, just a conversation, talking to God and listening to God.

But prayer was essential to Jesus in his humanity and prayer, my dear brothers and sisters, should be  absolutely essential to our life.

It is true — I say this all the time because it happens — our lives are all busy. We are distracted with many responsibilities and things we have to get done. But, isn’t it true that it is essential for us to pray. To make room for God, make time for Christ. Make time to pray.

And it’s also important that Jesus teaches us not only by his words, but by his example. The Apostles saw Jesus praying all the time — that’s why his Apostles ask him: Lord, teach us to pray.

Jesus really wants us to follow his example — to pray. As children talking to our Father.

When we pray, Jesus tells us today, we are never alone. We pray “Our” Father. Not “My” Father.

Jesus is inviting us to enter into his own prayer. As he is praying to God the Father, he’s inviting us to pray with him to God the Father. He’s teaching us how to be like him, to grow as children of God, sons and daughters of our Father who loves us.

Makes sense. We are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, so it makes sense that we follow the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ and find the time to pray, as I’m sure that we all do.

So there are two parts to the Our Father. First, Jesus teaches us to lift our gaze to what is above, to adore and praise God — for his holy name, for his Kingdom, for his will. And then second, Jesus teaches us to think about what we really need, to ask him — for bread, for forgiveness, for freedom from temptations and evil. To pray for the challenges and difficulties that we have in our lives. And for the heart to forgive others. These are, as we all can see, just daily ordinary things that at are absolutely necessary in our lives.

And one of the most beautiful things is it’s obvious that God wants us to pray for one another. And even more than that, God wants us to know that he hears our prayers.

That is the beautiful lesson we find in today’s first reading, that interesting, fascinating conversation between Abraham and God.

 

Abraham was a little, how can I say it, bold — he was a little insistent speaking to God and kind of challenging God and tell him what’s wrong with you. He speaks to him with confidence, he has no fear. And my dear brothers and sisters, this is how we should pray because God loves us as a Father.

 

Our Father knows our hearts, so we can approach him in all honesty and sincerity. He wants us to ask him for great things, and for little things. So prayer should be there, always, in our lives.

 

And as we heard, Abraham was passionate about pleading for the innocent people in those cities that had turned away from God.

 

Again, the point is that God hears our prayers. So our prayer — your prayer, my prayer — has a lot of power. Actually as a spiritual writer says, the most powerful weapon that we have is prayer.

 

When we pray, God listens.  Not some of the time. But all of the time. He hears every prayer.

 

Now, it is true that God does not always give us the answers we want to hear.

 

Yes, this is one of the mysteries of prayer. But we can be confident, as Abraham was. We can be sure that God is present even when he is silent. We can trust that in some way — he does indeed answer every prayer.

 

Then at the heart of Jesus’ prayer are the words Thy will be done. This is the key to the Our Father and the key to our lives. In this prayer, Jesus is teaching us that the most important thing in our lives is to know God’s law and to do it.

 

We pray — not for what we want, but, essentially, for what God wants. Thy will be done. Not my will.

So Jesus tells us in the Gospel today:

Ask and you will receive.

Seek and you will find.

Knock and the door will be opened to you.

 

These are personal promises, Jesus is telling us; he’s telling you, he’s telling me — “Trust in me, I know what is best for you, and I will give it to you.”

 

And St. Paul says the same thing in the second reading today. He tells tells us that God has already given us the greatest gift we could ever hope for. He has died for us on the cross and raised us to new life with Jesus Christ in Baptism!

 

This is the God that we pray to, we talk to! The God of all Creation, the God of the Resurrection! A God who loves us so much that he was willing to die for us.

 

So always our prayer should be a prayer of total, absolute trust and confidence

So this week, as we go about our duties in the world, let us keep asking Jesus as the apostles did, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Let us try to be more mindful of God’s presence with us this week. So let us make time for prayer everyday — maybe when your day is getting started, or at the end of the day. Just a few minutes to be quiet with God. To talk to him and to listen for his voice.

Let us ask God’s help in our conversations, our relationships, our responsibilities. It is always important to ask God, in every situation: “What do you want me to do, Lord? What is your will?”

And let’s especially ask Mary our Blessed Mother for her intercession — that she’ll be a mother to us and teach us to pray as children of God.

1. Readings: Gen. 18:20-32; Ps. 138:1-2, 6-8; Col. 2:2-14; Luke 11:1-13.

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