YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: God is our Creator and Father and this identity of God ordinarily defines our relationship with Him. When we understand what it truly means to have God as our Origin and Father, our dispositions change and we appreciate the more our unique identity as children of God and the fact that God in His providence carters for each and every one of us. This experience opens our hearts and minds and souls on how best to approach God in prayers. May we faithful sons and daughters of God; Amen.
The Gospels record different moments in the public ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ when He went apart to pray. This frequent attitude of Jesus Christ must have left a very deep impression on His disciples that one of them summoned up courage to request of Him, as we heard in the Gospel Reading of today (Luke 11:1-13), “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” This request gave rise to the Lord’s Prayer that is the model for all Christians in their prayers to God and in which is contained the principle elements that must be contained in every well articulated prayer. Firstly is the act of adoration which involves “admiration with devotion”, reserved to God alone, in which we recognise the immensity and mysterious nature of God and His omnipotence. Secondly is the act of contrition in which we recognise the different ways in which we may have sinned against God and to ask Him for mercy. Thirdly is the act of thanksgiving in which we thank God for the blessings already received. And fourthly, the act of supplication or petition in which we present to God our needs and requests. At the centre of this is the fact that God is our Father and that we are His sons and daughters and that God knows what is best for us even before we ask Him and that as God’s children we can communicate with Him in the humble way of prayer. This is so because the tone of our prayers, to a great extent, displays the depth of our relationship with God. Also, through prayers, we recognise God’s Fatherhood and His absolute supremacy over us and our total dependence on Him and our abject nothingness without Him. Hence, Jesus is teaching us to recognise our limitations as creatures (as sons and daughters of God), to humble ourselves before God our Father in prayers and to be persistent in prayers. In other words, Jesus is teaching us to be in constant communication with our Father; “ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.”
Abraham understood this logic of our relationship with God and this is seen in the different encounters he had with God in the Book of Genesis. In the First Reading (Genesis 18:20-32) we heard how he persistently interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah. Throughout the six times Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, it was very obvious the depth of his relationship with God and his recognition of God as both his Father and Creator and of his nothingness without God. This brought him into communion and communication with God. Prayer is a form of communion with God. It is an indispensable form of communication in every healthy relationship between us and God. Saint Therese of Lisieux wrote in one of her manuscripts that “prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” Through prayers, we not only recognise the Fatherhood of God and His providence, but we also enter into the deepest mysteries of Christ through Whose Divine Sonship, we too become sons and daughters for “we have been buried with Christ, when we were baptised; and by baptism, too, we have been raised up with Him through our belief in the power of God who raised Him from the dead” (Col 2:12-14). Prayers are the lungs with which our relationship with God breaths and is alive.
Heavenly Father, give us the grace, through prayers, to be conscious of our identity as sons and daughters of God, by the merits of Christ the Emmanuel your only Begotten Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit; Amen. Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE