XVII SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
genesis 18:20-32; colossians 2:12-14; luke 11:1-13
winston churchill took three years to get through the eighth grade; he couldn’t pass english! many years later, on 29 october 1941, he was asked to address the boys at his alma mater. his famous speech supposedly consisted of five words: «never, never, never give up!»
this may be a legend! legend or not, these words sum up the thrust of today’s readings: «never give up» on GOD and on prayer.
in the first reading, abraham asks GOD repeatedly, and even negotiates with him to save the immoral cities of sodom and gomorrah. in the words of one prayer-master, this is the APU program: aggressive, persistent and unreasonable!
in today’s gospel, after teaching his disciples to pray, jesus urges them to be persistent in prayer: ask repeatedly, seek untiringly and knock loudly… and they will receive, find and have the door opened.
but for what do we ask, seek and knock?
we ought to pray, first, for GOD’s name to be made holy, for his kingdom to be established and for his will to be done… we pray «for his own sake: thy name, thy kingdom, thy will» (CCC 2804). we, then, pray for ourselves: for daily food, forgiveness (in the measure that we forgive!) and freedom from temptation/evil.
when we pray according to this «pattern», GOD—like and much more than a good parent—will answer our prayer (for the record, «no» is also an answer!) with all that we need… the holy spirit!
may you and i never give up on GOD and on prayer. may we remember that prayer is «to be in harmony with GOD… to feel the assurance that GOD is in, around and greater than any circumstance; that, come what may, we belong to him and underneath are the everlasting arms… that prayer is not a trading post, but a line of communication» (carveth mitchell, «the sign in the subway»).