Reflection for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

by Fr Wiseman Nkomo

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Gen 18:20-32; Col 2:12-24; Luke 11:1-13

God who is our Father has plans for us His creatures, and Prayer is the only way God reveals bit by bit His plans for Us His Children.

In today’s first reading which could be seen as a prelude to the gospel reading we see Abraham requesting to know God’s plans, and God in answering Abraham’s question regarding God’s just dealing with the righteous and wicked of the world Abraham becomes the recipient of the gift of knowing the divine plan. Such gift will demand of him to do what is just and right from that moment on.

This gift of knowing the divine plan does not come easy to Abraham. He had to be persistent in his inquiry about God’s justice “will you indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked?” From a maximum of fifty righteous people to a minimum of ten Abraham in all persistent humility delves into God’s plans concerning his dealing with his creatures. There was a continuous communication between them.

What we see here is not Abraham trying to change God’s plans and divert Him from his original plans but we see Abraham through conversing with God eventually receiving God’s whole plan concerning His dealings with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is exactly what our prayer should be “an inquiry into God’s plans concerning His dealings with us and those who are dear to us.” At the end of our prayer we should receive the Gift of knowing the divine plan.

Jesus is the pattern for all of us for prayer. In the gospels, we read that He often withdrew to the mountains or to lonely places to pray. In the brief record of Jesus’ life in the gospels, we read that the words ‘pray’ or ‘prayer’ are used at least twenty five times in connection with our Lord. Prayer took much of the time and strength of Jesus during His lifetime.

The Prayer of Jesus.
What we read in today’s gospel is a call to be persistent in our communication with God. To the request “teach us to pray” Jesus does not only give his disciples a prayer but also gives them the way to live and act as his followers. The Our father is a personal prayer. The father who “makes himself and his plans known to us through his Son” is like any father should be a caring, providing, gracious and loving parent. No prayer could be intimate and personal as the Our Father. “Father, hollowed be thy name. Your kingdom come.” God’s identity has been revealed and through the first part of the prayer Jesus has made his disciples recipients of that gift of divine knowledge of a God whose name is Holy, whose name should not be defiled by anyone of the disciples by internal or external evils. We already know of the kingdom of God because we have seen Jesus displaying it through “physical healing (Lk 4:40 – 41), deliverance from demons (Lk 8: 26 – 39), and raising the dead (Lk 8: 49 – 56). In short praying for the kingdom to come is to offer oneself as an instrument in God’s hand to relieve others of all that burdens them.

What follows from here are daily human petitions which are request for assistance in bringing God’s kingdom on earth. Through them we ask God to relieve us of our daily struggles: hunger, sin, and temptation. The first petition “Give us each day our daily bread” reminds us of our perpetual need of God for as proverbs has it “otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say ‘who is the Lord?’ or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God” (30:9). In God’s plan we get only what is enough for each day and that is good for us. The second petition “and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us,” reveals our confidence to our gracious Father as we pray for forgiveness of our sins. In the Kingdom of God, mercy is enough for all who repent of their sins and turn to the Lord. However in this kingdom none who is unable and unwilling to forgive those who wrong him can partake of it. The third and final petition “and lead us not into temptation.” In apostolic times the persecutions would make it difficult for the disciples to remain steadfast in the midst of temptation and the disciples are reminded that they will forever need God’s assistance in fighting against the evil one.

All said and done each day we begin our day with prayer and it is for God to grant to each one of us according to our need. Each day God makes us recipients of his divine plans by relieving our hunger as our only provider, unburdening us from our sins through forgiveness and sustaining our conviction to remain faithful to the gift of divine knowledge by protecting us from any form of temptation and yes we remain indebted only to him at the end of each day of our life.