YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Luke 11:1-13 (The Lord’s Prayer)
Message # 354: “How it Makes His Divine Heart Suffer!”
- The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother’s message was given in Seattle, Washington. She expressed deep sadness for the “permissive attitude of many priests and of some bishops who justify even the gravest acts of impurity” (letter b). This attitude makes the divine heart of Jesus suffer.
b) These acts of impurity referred to by the Blessed Mother are not simple. These are “impure acts against nature” that “cry for vengeance in the sight of God” (letter c). These are the sins of homosexual acts, sexual perversions, same sex marriages, pedophilia and many others. She reminds everybody of the sixth commandment of God – “it has still its full force and must be observed even by this corrupted and perverted generation” (letter d).
c) The Blessed Mother gave this very strong warning to all priests: “Every pastor who, in any manner whatsoever, would justify these sins, draws down upon his person and upon his life the fierce fire of divine justice. The cup of iniquity is now full, is more than full and is flowing over everywhere” (letter e).
d) Prayer, accompanied by conversion, is the only solution to this situation: “And so I invite you to multiply your cenacle of prayer and to offer me your lives made fragrant by the virtue of purity” (letter f).
e) She looks forward to the day that is coming when this world will be transformed into “a new garden of light, of purity and of holiness” (letter g).
- The Sunday Readings
a) The first reading concerns the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. God was fed up with the depravity and impure acts against nature of the people. (The word “sodomy” is taken from Sodom.) God decided to destroy the two cities. But Abraham prayed to God for the sake of the people. Abraham gives us an example of sincere and intimate prayer. He talked to God as if he was just talking to another human person. He was that intimate to God in prayer. He bargained with God, like he would bargain while shopping in Divisoria. He started with fifty holy people, and then he went down until he reached ten. God agreed to spare the city if there were ten holy people. God is just, but He is also very merciful. He patiently listened to the importunate prayers of Abraham. But as it turned out, there were obviously not ten holy people there. Sodom and Gomorrah were burned by sulfur and acid raining down from heaven.
b) The Responsorial Psalm is a declaration of God’s fidelity and willingness to listen to our prayers: “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.” We are invited to remember this truth at all times. Our prayers are never a waste of time. God always listens to us.
c) The second reading is from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He talks about baptism. In Jesus, we were baptized, and this made us God’s beloved children and inheritors of His kingdom. We are assured by St. Paul that God will always be gracious and merciful to us for we are His beloved children. When we pray, let this be our source of inspiration and hope.
d) The Gospel is St. Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer. It is shorter than in the other Gospels. The lesson is not only about the formula of prayer. It also reminds us that God is our loving and good Father, infinitely better than any human father. So, we should pray with tenderness, intimacy and full trust in our loving Father since He looks at us as His beloved children.
e) The Marian Message is related to the three readings. The Blessed Mother bewails the rampant spread of impurity – most especially impure acts against nature – in the world that makes the heart of Jesus suffer. These are the sins that made God so angry that He razed Sodom and Gomorrah to the ground. She asked for more prayers, and in particular to multiply cenacles of prayer in order to combat the spread of evil in the world. Owing to our baptismal dignity that St. Paul referred to in the second reading, our prayer should be like that of a trustful child as shown by the example of Abraham and as taught by Jesus in the Gospel.
- Some Important Information on Prayer
a) Notion of PRAYER: Prayer is communication with God. More specifically, prayer is the lifting up of our spirit to God. It is a two-way communication. It is the lifeblood of our soul. It is the “oxygen of the soul”, according to St. Padre Pio. In prayer we come into contact with God. We become one with God. That is why a prayerful man is powerful because God is in him.
b) Essential Elements of Prayer:
* Faith – We pray because we are convinced of God’s power, and we trust His love and providence. A person who has no faith will surely not pray.
* Humility – When we pray, we acknowledge the fact that God is the source of everything in our life. We are nothing without God. So, in prayer, we bow down in humility, asking God for help, as well as His forgiveness for our sinfulness and unworthiness. Without humility, there can be no genuine prayer.
* Communication – Prayer is our communication with God. It is always a two-way communication. We talk to God; He listens. God talks to us; we should listen. Since God knows everything that we need, prayer, therefore, should be more of listening to God rather than talking. That is why we are encouraged not only to read novenas and prayer books, but also to put ourselves in silence in order to properly dispose ourselves to meditation and contemplation.
c) Kinds of Prayer:
– private – when the prayers are said individually and in private.
– public – when prayers are said publicly as in various liturgical and paraliturgical celebrations. This already amounts to public worship.
– official prayers of the Church – foremost among these is the Liturgy of the Hours. The others are the prayers that have official approval of the competent ecclesiastical authority. These prayers can be said in private or in public worship, individually or in groups.
– personal prayers – those prayers that were composed by private individuals without the official approval of the Church authority.
– vocal prayers – oral recitation or chanting of prayers, in private or in public, individually or in groups.
– silent prayers – such as meditation, contemplation, or just being with the Lord and listening to Him in silence.
The Rosary is both vocal and silent prayer. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most important and highest form of prayer. When we celebrate the Mass, we join Jesus in the offering of his sacrifice on the cross to the heavenly Father.
d) Special Note: “Praying and Singing in Tongues”
This is a clear manifestation of a person’s “surrender” to God. This was very common in the early Church, now being revived by the charismatic movement. There is nothing wrong or bad with this practice. Our vocal faculties and our intellect are limited. When we are deep in the Holy Spirit, our intellect and our tongue just cannot express and contain that profound experience being undergone by our soul. So our tongue, when we surrender our gift of speech to God, pronounces syllables that nobody can comprehend. This kind of prayer and of praising God is more profound. It is the soul and the heart (not our mind or mouth) that praise God. This is what St. Paul describes as the “groanings” of the Spirit: “In the same way, the Spirit, too, comes to the aid of our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings” (Rom 8:26). (We have to distinguish praying and singing in tongues from “speaking in tongues”. The latter is a form of prophecy, and it needs another person who has the gift of interpretation, so that the message can be understood).
The same is true with the experience of being “slain in the Spirit” (surrender of our bodies to God). The saints usually experience this: during deep contemplation, they levitate (float in the air) or bilocate (“bilocation” – being present in two places at the same time). In the charismatic movement, what is more common is “resting in the Spirit”. The person, when touched by the Holy Spirit, surrenders his body to God, and just rests in the Lord – he willingly loses control of his body and falls down unhurt. It greatly helps in easing one’s tensions and stress, and he experiences deep peace.
Surrendering to God, both our power of speech as well as our body, is a profound expression of a prayerful soul. In prayer, we do not impose our will on God; rather, we surrender our will to God’s will. This we see clearly in the prayer of Jesus at Gethsemane.
Sing the “Ama Namin”
QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Regular ang oras ng ating pagkain, paligo, trabaho, tulog at iba pa araw-araw. Bakit nahihirapan tayong gawing regular ang ating pagdarasal?
2. Hanggang sa ngayon maraming mga Katoliko ang naniniwala pa rin sa mga pamahiin, manghuhula, horoscope, anting-anting at pati na sa feng shui. Batay sa aral ng Ebanghelyo ngayong Linggo, maituturing ba silang mga totoong Katoliko?
3. Paano tayong magkakatulungan upang mapalakas at maging regular ang ating buhay-panalangin? Magbahaginan ng mga ideya at paraan.