July 24, 2016
GN 18:20-32 PS 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8 COL 2:12-14 LK 11:1-13
[Awesome fellow conspirator Heather Renshaw has written this week’s Sunday Reading Reflection. She regularly blogs at Real Catholic Mom.]
At first blush, it appears that Father Abraham sure had some chutzpah, doesn’t it? In the First Reading, God is ready to completely wipe out the people of Sodom because of their evil-doings when Abraham boldly goes to bat on behalf of the innocent.
Upon closer examination, it appears that not only did Abraham know something about praying to God, but his relationship with God contained certain characteristics that Christ Himself employs when teaching His disciples to pray in today’s Gospel passage.
Abraham was accustomed to speaking with Almighty God – theirs wasn’t a fluke encounter or a casual acquaintance. Abraham knew God, and God knew him because they spent time together.
As St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans, we, too, are called to be in close communion with our Heavenly Father because we “have received a spirit of adoption through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” God is our Father, and Jesus Himself instructs us to address Him as such:
“When you pray, say: Father …”
We call God our “Father” at every Mass, but do we truly believe it? Do we believe that He is a loving Father who longs for us to draw close to Him?
Abraham had a realistic understanding of who he was in relation to Almighty God. Abraham humbled himself as he made his requests, marking each inquiry with a reference to his lowliness.
When we acknowledge that it is God – and not we – Who is the Source of everything that is good, we approach His throne in right order.
Jesus models proper deference to His Father’s dominion and transcendent holiness as He articulates the reverence we are to show God when we pray:
“… hallowed be Your name …”
Do we show God the proper honor and respect He deserves? Do we have a healthy understanding of who we are and Who He is?
In Genesis chapter 17, God makes a covenant with Abraham and Abraham is obedient to God’s commands. When we are in genuine relationship with our Heavenly Father, something changes within us. Instead of always asking for things according to our desires, we are able to conform our will to God’s.
Jesus encourages us to submit ourselves to God’s ultimate plan for our lives as He prays:
“… Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.“
Are there areas in our lives where we find it difficult to obey God? Do we understand that submitting ourselves to God’s will is actually choosing the very best outcome for ourselves?
Abraham persistently asks God for mercy upon the people of Sodom. He continues to intercede until he is satisfied with the result.
Perhaps we give up on prayer. We put our one of two prayer tokens in the God slot machine and when we don’t come up with all pineapples, we become discouraged and are tempted to withdraw.
As Jesus tells His disciples, “ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” In this passage, the original text uses a form of the verbs that translates more accurately to “keep asking,” “keep seeking,” and “keep knocking.” God wants us to never stop drawing close to Him. He wants us to keep praying, interceding, and asking, as Abraham did.
Jesus invites us to call upon God for all our needs – from the biggest to the smallest – on a regular basis. He says we should ask God to:
“Give us each day our daily bread …”
How often do we fail to persevere in prayer? Do we believe God wants to answer our prayers, both big and small? Do we withdraw from God when things don’t go the way we think they ought?
God showed mercy to Abraham by blessing him and his wife, Sarah, with offspring in their very old age. Shortly thereafter, Abraham tirelessly petitioned God to have mercy upon the people of Sodom.
Christ reminds us to be merciful to others, as the measure of forgiveness we give to others is the measure of forgiveness we ask to receive from the Lord Himself:
“… and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us…”
Do we believe that we serve a merciful God? Do we ever withhold mercy or forgiveness from others? How may we better exhibit God’s unfathomable mercy in our daily lives?
Later on in the book of Genesis, Abraham is asked to do the unthinkable – to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, as a holocaust to God. Rather than disobey, Abraham has the faith (and courage) to believe that God will not bring ultimate devastation to his family. Abraham’s faith is rewarded when an angel appears and tells him to leave his son untouched.
Jesus exhorts his disciples to pray that God will grant them the faith and courage necessary to withstand whatever trials may come:
“… and do not subject us to the final test.”
How strong is our faith? Do we believe God will protect us? Do we trust Him with our lives and the lives of those whom we love?
The next time we pray to our Father in the words Jesus gave us, let us consider Abraham, our Father in Faith, and ask for his intercession that we may be disposed, as he was, to draw ever closer to our Father in Heaven through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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