HOMILY FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: GOD GOVERNS THE WORLD, BUT PRAYER “GOVERNS” GOD.
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 24 2022
(GENESIS 18:20-32; COLOSSIANS 2:12-14; LUKE 11:1-13)
An old Christian hymn goes thus:
What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry, Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer!
When God is your friend, you can ask him for anything because he is the best and most patient of all friends. The drama in the first reading today attests to that. Abraham was God’s friend that is why we see this drama today in the reading. This delightful story is a reminiscent of a scene of bargaining in an oriental bazaar, a scene of deadly earnest, yet playful bargaining. Abraham goes on pushing his luck, using laughably inadequate logic, till he has gone well beyond the point of any sort of reason. His partner in this game continues to show good-humored tolerance, and above all an unbelievable willingness to forgive. Some might find this process of bargaining to lack reverence for the almighty power of God, but it is an expression of Israel’s intimate affection for the Lord. And that is prayer, it brings us at close intimacy with God.
This Sunday, therefore, the Church draws our attention to the need to always turn to God in prayer in all circumstances of our life. She reminds us that prayer is the key to unlock and enter the heart of God. The gospel of today is an explicit call to us Christians to pray. Christ Himself gives us in truth, the power (The Lord’s Prayer), to become children of God. The wise disciple who curiously and humbly asked Christ: “Lord teach us how to pray.” is like the man who says: “Do not give me fish! Rather, teach me how to fish.” For us to pray effectively we must long to pray, thirst for prayer, and get into our “closet”, get down on our knees and start praying.
Prayer is a “simple project” that accomplishes much. As a project, prayer is not just a thing of the flesh, but also a thing of the spirit and must not be approached mechanically. Unfortunately, most of us have lost the right approach to prayer and so, we are nowhere close to praying despite all the noise we generate in the name of praying. Paul tells us that: “We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us in groans that words cannot express” (Rom 8:26). So, whenever we lack wisdom of how to pray and what to pray for, we must ask the Spirit of Jesus to teach and help us to pray.
My brothers and sisters, if we must achieve any success in our mission, we must adopt Abraham’s resoluteness, and the courage and humility of Jesus’ disciple, our prayer life must be revived, and we must burn with the zeal to pray. Therefore, we must not be quick to give up. Our God never keeps silent, as one of our night prayer songs in the office by J. Ellerton says “… the voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away”, rather he waits for the appropriate time to respond and act. If with gentleness and calmness of spirit we stand before God in prayer, he will hear us and of course we will succeed. We must not give up the habit of prayer because it is a gift of Jesus through which he empowers us to be constantly in touch with God. If we pray according to the mind and will of God as Jesus taught us today, we shall gladly join the Psalmist in saying: “On the day I called, you answered me, O Lord!”
God bless you!
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
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