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Bulletin: July 24, 2022

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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Have you ever watched a master chef at work or a professional musician or athlete and wondered “How do they do that? They make it look so easy.” We are naturally attracted to someone who excels at something, a person whose heart is obviously in their work, and we can’t help but wonder if we are capable of anything like that. This was likely true for the disciples as well. They had seen Jesus at prayer on many occasions (this is especially true in Luke’s Gospel) and it was obvious that someone, somehow was shaping/transforming the life of their teacher. Abraham, too, gives us an example of a conversation with God that goes beyond the ordinary approach to divine petitioning. Meanwhile, Psalm 138 assures us that when we cry for help God will answer—for Christ has become our mediator and we are one with him in baptism.


SNAKES AND SCORPIONS AND PRAYERS? OH, MY!

How often do we hear about snakes and scorpions at Mass? Well, today we do! Jesus uses these frightful (to most of us!) images for their shock value in order to emphasize how graciously and unfailingly our Father in heaven cares for us. The first reading sets the stage for our reflection. Who can hear the story of Abraham negotiating with God in the first reading and not smile at his audacity? The middle Eastern custom of bartering likely honed Abraham’s skills in that arena. He even appeals to God’s sense of honor, saying, “Far be it from you to do such a thing” [as to wipe out the innocent with the guilty]. Have we not all bargained with God at one time or another when we were desperately in need?


YOU HAVE HEARD THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH

Notice that the very first words of today’s Gospel are “Jesus was praying.” Of course, the disciples would be curious about a practice that was so central to Jesus’ daily life. He was obviously good at it. Perhaps they wanted to know how they could more easily “influence” God themselves! They wanted to know what would work. Luke’s version of the beloved Lord’s Prayer (one of two found in the Gospels) is highlighted today in response to the disciples’ request.

The two parables following the Lord’s Prayer teach us about prayer both from the point of view of the one who prays and from God’s point of view. The parable of the friend who knocks on the door at midnight illustrates prayer from the point of view someone who urgently needs something. Persistence is the key. The last section of the Gospel offers us a glimpse of prayer from God’s point of view. If you seek, you will find; if you knock, the door will be opened. With Jesus as our mediator, we are assured of a hearing before our Father in heaven who is waiting to give good gifts to his children.

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