Homily for the seventeenth Sunday of the Year - Year C - Lk. 11:1-13


by

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!» "




Homily:


" 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 the evening of his life on earth, Jesus, in the Cenacle with his disciples, spent some time praying to his Father: "Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son..." (Jn. 17:1) It was as if this prayer were his Testament, that which he bequeathed to his disciples shortly before his death, a Testament that, to some extent, was part of that invaluable Gift that he left here on earth in memory of himself, in memory of his eternal Covenant with all humanity: the sacrament of his Body and Blood, the New Testament of God in Jesus!


When Jesus prays, he does so in order to leave us an inheritance, a good which belongs to him and which he transmits to us, a good that we ourselves must preserve and transmit to our descendants, whether they be carnal or spiritual. For, when Jesus prays, he does not do so to ask God his Father for some favor, or for some grace he does not have. Jesus is God. He is the Almighty. He lacks for nothing. Jesus does not need to pray, except in order to show us how we should pray and what we should say or ask for in prayer.


In prayer, Jesus gives us all the things we wish for in our life, for prayer is the inheritance he leaves us! Now, in inheriting from Jesus, we become heirs with Jesus, we become sons and heirs of the Father. For, all that Jesus gives us is what he himself received from his Father: "I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (Jn. 15:15) Thus, Saint Paul exclaims: "We are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ." (Rm. 8:16-17)


" 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.» "


If we are heirs of God through prayer, that is why the prayer par excellence is that which, being addressed to the Father, speaks of him and of his action toward us. This is why, when the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, Christ dictates to them the prayer that all Christians can say, no matter what denomination they belong to: "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."


The version of the "Our Father" given here by Saint Luke differs from the one we habitually say, notably during the Eucharistic celebration. In fact, it is Saint Matthew's longer version that the Church retained for addressing herself to the Father, in accordance with the teaching of Jesus (cf. Mt. 6:9-13). But, while the words of this prayer have a real importance, since it is Christ himself who taught them to us, it is even more important for us to pay attention to the spirit in which this prayer is said to God our Father. And this is what Jesus wants to underline in what follows.


" 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.» "


The first quality that prayer must have is that of being persevering! It is necessary to pray, pray, always pray, without ever growing weary of doing so. If you contract a serious illness, perhaps an incurable one, do not cease praying to God and asking him for healing: for God does not want disease, but rather the health of the soul and body, in order that his children may worship him and serve him in joy. Sometimes, God does not grant what we ask of him, for he wants this disease to be for us a means of repentance, either for our sins or for those of the whole world. And sometimes, though more rarely, the more one prays for a cure, the worse the disease gets... The lives of the Saints are filled with various examples on this subject...


" «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!» "


If prayer has one quality that is of absolutely primary importance, it is truly that of confidence! God our Father is good, with a goodness that far surpasses anything we could ever imagine... And, when we pray to our Heavenly Father, what he expects of us above all is ABSOLUTE confidence! For God is All-Powerful! He can do absolutely anything, with no exception. And if, with the help of his grace, we have such confidence, let us not doubt that he will give us even more than what we ask of him... For God sees further than we do: he watches over us by his Divine Providence. Jesus tells us so in detail: "Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith!" (Lk. 12:27-28)


During this Eucharist, we shall all pray together to our Father, who is in Heaven. Let us ask Him to send us his Holy Spirit! Let us ask this Spirit of Love to unite together all those who share in the same inheritance with Christ! Let us all pray together, with the Saints of Heaven and the Saints of the earth! Above all, let us pray with the holiest of all the children of God and co-heirs of Christ, let us pray with the Virgin Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God! Amen!



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