Homily for the seventeenth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 11:1-13
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
" Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, «Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.» And he said to them, «When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.»
" And he said to them, «Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, `Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
" «And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!» "
" Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, «Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.» "
In this Sunday's gospel, Jesus proposes to us several short picturesque scenes in order to encourage us to pray. The first of these is none other than the example of Jesus himself while praying. The disciples of the Lord saw their Master in prayer, and they were so struck by this - because his prayer was the prayer of God (cf. Lk. 6:12) - that they asked him to teach them to pray, it being understood that they wished to learn to pray as he prayed. And he said to them: "When you pray, say: Father..." These are the words recorded by Saint Luke. It is necessary to join this to what Saint Matthew records, namely: "Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven." (Mt. 6:10) For this was the prayer of Jesus on earth par excellence, to his very last hour: "Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Lk. 22:42)
" And he said to them, «Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.'» "
Jesus is our model of prayer. But there are other models... And we need them. Yes! We need models and examples to encourage us to pray. For prayer always requires effort: it requires an effort to go out of oneself in order to go to another, to someone who can help us and in whom we put all our trust and hope. It is not so much our pride which we must defeat and dominate, but rather our personal 'me'. Certainly, we need humility in order to pray; but what is most important is the domination of all of our person through a complete openness to that other Being who is not us and in whom we have full confidence. That is the entire substance of prayer: to go to this other being who can help us, this other being who is called God!
" «If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!» "
He who prays and who confides in God is united to God through the love that hopes and believes that the All-Powerful will come to his aid. He who prays and leaves himself becomes, in a way, similar to God, united with him in the love of the Holy Spirit! For God the Father also leaves himself, if we may say it that way, when he begets his Son: the Father begets his own Image, completely similar to him, in a way present before him, since he is a divine Person distinct from the Father. And the Father fully confides in this beloved Son, who can help him through his divine omnipotence, just as the man who prays confides in God, who is his universal help!
Not only can the Son help the Father, but together they achieve that unique and marvelous Work which they eternally enjoy: the procession of the Holy Spirit! When man prays to the Father with confidence, then the Holy Spirit is given to man, and the procession of the Holy Spirit becomes even more manifest, for then the Father sees his Son in the man who prays, and seeing his Son, he loves him with an even more intense love, if that were possible, and their mutual Work is constantly perpetuated throughout the whole world!
" « ... I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs.» "
All the examples which Jesus gives us in this gospel are there to help us to think and to reflect: they are there in order that we use our memory! And this is very important, because it is precisely the Holy Spirit who is the divine Person who brings to our remembrance all the words of Jesus: "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (Jn. 14:26) In the course of this eucharistic celebration, which is the memorial of the Lord, let us pray with great confidence, let us receive Jesus within us with great faith and unlimited love! May the Most Holy Virgin Mary help us to pray with the Holy Spirit!