Cycle [C] 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

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

Today’s first reading from the book of Genesis  speaks of Abraham’s persistent plea for his country men.  The Lord God had come down from Heaven to go and visit the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the outcries against them that were reaching the Heavenly Throne. During this visit, Abraham was concerned that God would destroy Sodom if fifty righteous souls were not found within the city. On behalf of a lesser number of righteous soul, even ten, Abraham obtained God's unconditional promise that He would not destroy the city. Unfortunately, as history tells us, ten righteous persons could not be found and the city was destroyed.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Luke reminds us of the necessity to persevere in our prayer. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus taught them the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father. This rich prayer begins by praising the Almighty Father, this being followed by our consent to His Divine Will regarding the Heavenly Kingdom. Then we heard,

"Give us each day our daily bread." The Lord's Prayer continues with the words "And forgive us our sins, as forgive." And finally , “Do not  lead us into temptation”

To emphasize the importance of persevering in prayer, Jesus gave the story of a friend who arrived at midnight and the necessity to go next door to one's neighbour to borrow three loaves of bread. Under normal circumstances, it is expected that the neighbour will complain because of the hour during which the request is made. It must be realized that in those days, to open the door meant to remove a very large wooden or iron bar from the door that was shut. To do so was tiresome and noisy. Furthermore, the entire family slept on a mat in the peasant house that was single-roomed. To open the door meant to disturb the entire family from its sleep.

Jesus concluded His teaching by saying that if you ask, it will be given to you; if you search, you will find; and if you knock, the door will be opened to you.

God honors persistence. Throughout the bible, we read of persistence. Even Jesus was persistent in prayer. At the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus left his disciples and prayed three times. Some times we feel like your prayers are never answered. We wonder if God actually hears our prayers.  

The parable of the persistent widow offers us some answers. The judge in the parable was a man who didn’t fear God or respect anyone. He was in it for himself, the money and the power. So when the widow asked for a judgment, there was nothing in it for him. So, he was unwilling to help.

The widow, however, was persistent, approaching him multiple times until he finally gave in and rendered a just judgment.

Unlike the judge, God wants to intervene on our behalf. We are His chosen people, His beloved children. He wants to answer our prayers. What God simply need from us is our faith.

There is a story of the Sea Captain, who in a terrible storm feared the loss of all lives.  He asked if anyone knew how to pray.  No one volunteered.  So the captain, prepared to do a captain’s duty, agreed to pray.  His opening words were, “God, I’ve never bothered you before, and if you help us through this storm, I’ll never bother you again.”  That is hardly what God desires from any 

Daniel was a powerful character in the Old Testament. He was a mighty man of prayer whom God used again and again. God gave Daniel prophetic insight into the world around him. In Daniel 10, Daniel receives a revelation that he doesn’t understand and begins seeking the Lord for understanding. He continued his prayer, but no answer comes. Finally, an angel appeared to him and said, “God answered your prayer on the day you prayed”. But a spiritual battle had been raging in the for 21 days and Daniel never gave up.

When we come to God with our request we often come very casually.  We ask and then leave.  When we do not get an immediate answer we return with the request but more urgently.  The longer we do without what we need, the more we are aware of its importance to us, until like ancient Jacob we say “I will not let you go until you bless me.”  If we really need something from God, we will find ourselves returning again and again.

There is a great mystery surrounding our lives. We cannot find answers to any of them. The poem  "The Gate of the Year" by Minnie Louise Haskins reminds us just to put our trust in the Lord. And we will find  answers to all the mysteries.

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
“give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” 
And he replied, “go into the darkness
and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be better to you than light
and safer than a known way.” 

So I went forth and finding the hand of God
trod gladly into the night,
and he led me towards the hills
and the breaking of the day in the lone East.

When we do not understand why answers to our prayers are delayed, put our hand into God’s hand.  And continue to pray for those things we know to be his will.