Sunday Sermon for July 28, 2019, the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

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

In the Gospel reading today our Lord teaches His disciples to pray the Our Father.  In this context Jesus also tells us that a friend will give bread to a neighbor because of his persistence even more than because of their friendship and that a father will give good things to his children when they ask.  Since every possible request is contained in the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is telling us to be persistent in praying this prayer.

When we consider this prayer, it was, for over 1900 years, the only prayer we had received directly from Jesus.  The Divine Mercy prayers are now the second prayer our Lord gave us.  Because this prayer was given to us by God Himself, the prayer itself is perfect, infallible, and will always be answered without exception.  Hence, the reason our Lord tells us to persevere in prayer: we do not need another prayer; we just need to pray well the prayer Jesus gave us.

We begin by addressing God as Father.  If Jesus did not teach us to do this, it would be the height of pride and audacity.  But, since it was God Himself Who taught us to pray this way, it reminds us of our relationship with God Who is the best of Fathers and will always provide what is best for us. 

We pray that God’s Name is hallowed, meaning that we do not lose our respect and reverence for the Lord because of our filial relationship with Him.  We must always remember that He is God and we are nothing, but by God’s love, we have been made His children who can approach Him with absolute confidence. 

We pray for the coming of God’s Kingdom.  This is critical because Jesus told us plainly that Satan is the prince of this world and, if there was any doubt, the vile creature himself stated that all the kingdoms of the world had been given to him and that he could give them to anyone he willed.  The reign of Satan on earth has rarely been as obvious as it is today.

For this reason, we need to ask ourselves: “Do I want God’s Kingdom?”  This is crucial because there are more and more people rejoicing in the evil so pervasive in our society.  In the first reading we are told that the sin of the people of Sodom was so great there was an outcry to Heaven, but today we are being told this sin is normal and good. 

We can look at this sin, the violations of children and young people, and other sins, such as, abortion, and we see the kingdom of evil is surrounding us.  Many people have chosen to compromise with the evil.  After all, the devil is smart enough to present evil as good.  How many Catholics are against abortion, but think contraception is good?  How many oppose sodomy, but justify fornication?  So, we ask again: “Do I want the Kingdom of God?”  Are we happy with what we see in the kingdom of Satan, or do we lament and cry out to heaven at what we see?  Do we intercede for others as Abraham interceded for the people of Sodom?

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray for our daily bread.  Do we really trust that God will provide for our needs?  Many of us say we trust in God, but we trust in our money and material things more than we trust God.  We know God will provide, but from reading the Saints, we also know that He will not necessarily make it easy.  This is why we trust our money more than God.  Remember, you cannot serve God and mammon.

Our Lord teaches us to pray for the forgiveness of our sins.  St. Paul tells us, in the second reading, that in baptism we have the forgiveness of all our transgressions.  We also know our sins are forgiven in the confessional.  The problem is that many people do not like confession, so they stay away.  Even worse, they receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin.  The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom without sin.  Do we really want it?

In the Lord’s Prayer we ask to be forgiven only to the degree that we are willing to forgive others.  If God were to call you home today, are you free from any lack of forgiveness?  Are you holding on to anything done against you by anyone in the past or present? Perhaps this is part of the final test mentioned in St. Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer.  When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we should not just repeat the words in a rote manner, we need to go deep and really pray to our Father with persistence and confidence.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.

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