Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sunday, July 29 ~ Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 11: 1-13

He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation." And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, `Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Personal Reflection

These words speak volumes to me. Who better to teach us to pray than the Son Himself? When I say the Our Father, do I truly reflect on the words? Do I embrace their meaning? Do I truly want God's kingdom here on earth and believe it will come to pass? Do I trust He will provide for my needs today, even if I don't see from where tomorrow's bread will come? Do I examine myself daily and repent of my sins? The closer I am to God, the better I will know our sins. How close am I?

And, personally, I struggle with the story of the woman seeking bread. How about you? I find myself thinking, How can I, a miserable sinner, influence God? Well, my pastor explained it well to me not too long ago. I believe this is from St. Thomas Aquinas. There are blessings God will grant us whether we ask Him for them or not. There are blessings we will never receive whether we ask for them or not. Then, there are those blessings that God will bestow upon us ONLY if we ask Him for them, thus demonstrating our faith that they will come to pass. How do I see each of these qualifiers in my life?

Finally, I am always touched by this story about the fish and the snake. It is a reminder to me that our God is not a vengeful God. He is merciful and loves us. A dear friend just reminded me that the Church is a hospital for sinners not a haven for the holy. Again, the closer we get to God, the clearer we can see our sins, and the more culpable we are for them. Do I really believe God is my loving Father? Do I ask Him as a child would ask his/her Daddy?

How do I pray? The act of praying alone will bring us closer to God, whether the prayer is answered our way or not. Isn't that amazing? It means that no matter what gibberish we spout in prayer (excepting blasphemy, perhaps), it will have positive results for our soul. Is my prayer life where it should be? How can I dedicate myself anew to prayer and pour my heart into the time I set aside for it on a daily basis?

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