Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Two weeks ago, Our Lord taught us how to live our faith. Last week, He taught us the significance of being in His midst. In today’s gospel, He taught us how to pray. We are given words of prayer from the Word Himself. Fittingly enough, this prayer is petitioned millions of times by nearly all the faithful in a single day. And so we are proud to recite the words that Our Redeemer Himself has taught. The latter part of the gospel reading is when Our Lord urges us to be bold in prayer. He may be suggesting that we recite the prayer He taught us boldly, assuring us that we shall receive whenever we ask, find whenever we seek, and the door shall be opened to us whenever we knock. However, this seems repugnant to the theologically sound belief that we ought not to ask God for things, for that is when we step our foot on to our own spiritual disaster. “Lord, please give me financial security and happiness all the time.” “Lord, please give me a good grade on this upcoming test”. “Lord, please give me a spouse. I’m 37 years old.” There is nothing wrong with these petitions, indeed. But when our faith depends on clinging to what we desire, that is when we fail to be loyal to the One who created our inmost being. What, then, is the difference between the petitions “Give us this day our daily bread” and “Give us financial security and personal prosperity”? The difference has to do with faith. When we say, “Give us this day our daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer, we set God at the center of our lives. When we say, “give us financial security and personal prosperity”, we set ourselves where God is supposed to be. The truth is, the Lord is always communicating with us. When we do not receive that which we desire, He tells us something. When we do not get the promotion we’ve been longing for, He teaches us humility. When we fail despite our tireless petition to succeed, He teaches us that the way to true success is through failure, just as the way to the Resurrection is through to pain of the Cross. When something does not happen the way we desire to, He teaches us not to depend our happiness on external things. In all circumstances, God teaches us something pertinent to our faith. He teaches us to pray as if everything depends on Him. He loves those who pray to Him with the boldness of faith, with the indifference of faith. What is the indifference of faith? It is an expression that in sickness, in health, in failure, in humiliation, and even death, God remains at the center of our lives and nothing less. This is the faith He looks for in this world, the same faith which the city of Sodom and Gomorrah depend on when Abraham asks God as we hear in the first reading. This is the faith Our Lord urges us have when we pray. In its original Greek text, the word “father” as we hear in scripture today comes from the Hebrew word “Abba”, which means “Daddy”, “Dad”, an endearment a loving child calls his father. Think of that for a moment: Our Lord wants us to call the One who created the universe, the skies, the mountains, all the breathtaking sceneries we see, our Father. Our Dad. He wants us to know that we have a loving Father who can make us into more than our own desires. Mountains are not made in a day. Mountains are formed and deformed by the heat. Valleys and hills are not made in an instant. They come to be after years and years of being formed by fire. If we are going through a seemingly perpetual trial of heat, it is only because God is forming us into more than the captivating mountains and sceneries in this world. If God created the world so beautifully, how more beautiful can He make us, those who are close to His heart, the reason He came down to this world? There is no reason for despair, despite all the injustices, terrors, and difficulties we witness in our world. The LORD is here with us, just as He stands before Abraham. He never grows tired of us. It is us who grow tired of Him. So let us pray for the graces that will allow us to live with a child-like faith to our LORD who will never fail us. Amen.

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