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Friday, 22 July 2016

Reflection/Homily: Seventeenth (17th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C



Theme: Praying with the Holy Spirit
In the first reading of last Sunday we saw how Abraham welcomed God in the form of the three men who happened to be angelic beings and how they blessed Abraham with the promise of a Son. In today’s first reading (Genesis 18:20-32), we continue from where we stopped last Sunday. Abraham was already immersed in an atmosphere of prayer because he was already communicating with God. In verse 17 of Chapter 18, God said to Himself “I will not hide from Abraham what I am going to do”. God quickly communicated His plan of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah to Abraham. Immediately, Abraham intervened by interceding on behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah who were so engrossed in immorality. Abraham’s intention was to change the mind of God if a certain number of righteous men were found in these cities even though not even ten were found.

Abraham’s encounter with God has a number of lessons to teach us. We have to learn that prayer exposes us to divine secrets. Each time we come to God in prayer, we learn from the wisdom of God and discover new secrets. Prayer is like a school where we learn the will of God. In this school, God avails us the opportunity to make our own input to the body of divine knowledge. That was why He gave Abraham the opportunity to keep interceding for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah until he was exhausted. Even today, in our encounter with God, God still allows us to learn more from Him. That is why each time we encounter God in prayer, we learn something new about God, about ourselves and even about our problems. For this reason, when we pray, we have to listen to God first so that we know how to make our requests and adjust them when need be.

More so, God is a very merciful Father who does not delight in the destruction of sinners but want them saved. That was why he gave Abraham the opportunity of interceding on their behalf by patiently listening to him. If God is ever ready to listen to us, then sinners can confidently come to Him for mercy. Though Abraham was a righteous man who hated sin, he was merciful to sinners and kept on interceding for them. This challenges our attitude to sinners especially those who are publicly recognized. Can we intercede on their behalf? We are called to hate sin but love sinners to the point of praying for them since God does not delight in their destruction but in their repentance. For those who live in sin, the Scripture is warning us today to repent or face destruction as a result of our sins.

In the Gospel reading (Luke 11:1-13), Jesus teaches us how best to pray by giving us a pattern of prayer that will suit the needs of every Christian. Jesus however assured us of God’s readiness to grant the requests we persistently make to Him in as much as they are not sinful. Jesus’ assurance challenges our prayer life as Christians especially when we are too reluctant to pray because of pending requests. Jesus concluded his teaching by exposing us to the role of the Holy Spirit in our prayer life. The Holy Spirit is God’s solution to our problems because it is this Spirit that helps us to be persistent before God in prayer. Through this Spirit, we become adopted Children of God who can boldly call God “Our Father” (cf. Rom. 8:9). Because we do not know how we ought to pray, this Spirit intercedes for us in groans that words cannot express. It pleads with God on behalf of His people and in accordance with His will (cf. Romans 8:26-27).

Therefore beloved friends, what is it that you have been praying for? Do not loose heart. Keep praying. A life of righteousness enhances our power of intercession and this life of righteousness is only possible with the Spirit of God. Since the second reading (Col. 2:12-14) reminds us of our new life in the Risen Lord, let us ask him for the gift of the Holy Spirit to assist us in our intercession. We can only be persistent in prayer when we have the Holy Spirit because he is always there to intercede for us even when we are weak. God loves you.

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