Seventeenth Sunday C in Ordinary Time, Luke 11, 1-13

The disciples’ plea to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1), is appropriate.

Prayer must not become merely a Christian habit or duty. In that case, there is a danger that prayer will be regarded as a duty – and nothing more. In childhood, we were taught all sorts of good things, like greeting our elders, brushing our teeth, etc.; even though we did not enjoy it or care about it, we did it when they looked out for us. Prayer must not be one of those things and events we do out of compulsion, command, or just because someone is watching us do it. So it happens that with the end of childhood, we stop praying.
It is not enough to engage in prayer only when we are learning to enter into the mystery of God’s love, but prayer requires that in every time, age and circumstance, we realize that it is an act of love. We know that if direct personal contact between people ceases if we have nothing to say to each other, the love between us is disrupted and even extinguished. Prayer is a conversation between God and us. God in His love is always willing to talk with us. What is more, God speaks to us even when we break off the conversation, have no desire to talk to him about, bypass him, are deaf to his calls, addresses, intercessions… We must realize that prayer comes from the need within us. Man can only pray when he realizes that there is someone who surpasses us in all that is good and beautiful, who outgrows us. One can pray when one realizes one is never alone in any situation. Gandhi was not wrong when he wrote: “Prayer is more necessary for the soul than food for the body. The body can fast, but not the soul.”
We know the circumstances under which one of Jesus’ disciples requested: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). The disciples not only saw Jesus do this, but they witnessed that Jesus often walked away from them. They saw him praying; more often than not, Jesus prayed all night. They saw that Jesus prayed differently than the pious Jews. Jesus did not use ritualistic forms of prayer. His prayer was quite different, so it is no wonder that they asked Jesus to teach them to pray this way. And Jesus seemed to be waiting for this request. Jesus wants to share what he is full of. It is the love of God the Father. The very first word, “Father,” which we can understand as the key to the Lord Jesus’ prayer, is also the key to understanding the mystery of Jesus. For Jesus, the Father was “Abba,” that is, like our address, “Daddy, Papa, Papa,” which expresses the most personal contact with the loving One, where there are no barriers, no inhibitions, where there is the most intimate contact of love. The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word. And we don’t take it into English, but we express it with our “Father.” To whom do we say “Father”? When a child experiences a father’s love, even when he becomes a father years later, he has the most beautiful relationship with his father, which can be expressed by saying that “a father is just a father.” Jesus, though He was always God, though He took on the nature of man, has the most personal relationship with God the Father. The Lord Jesus is in constant contact with God the Father. Recall the moment when the disciples returned from their missionary journey; the Lord Jesus groaned in the Holy Spirit and said: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to the little ones” (Lk 10:21). No one addresses and addresses God so familiarly before Jesus as he does. And consider, Jesus desires that we also address God our Father with such love. Then, when we fulfill this request of the Lord Jesus, it is not possible that prayer will become difficult, uncomfortable, or that we will procrastinate.

We know from the history of the enemies of the Church that they have made many attacks to remove prayer from the hearts of men. Is it possible to remove and ban love from the conversations of those who love each other and themselves?
One simile:
Think back to your student years. If we had a teacher whom we liked, who impressed us with his love, that he not only taught the subject but loved it, which could be seen and felt, did we not look forward to his classes? Even though it was a difficult subject, we had no fear, we didn’t skip classes we spent more time studying, all because that teacher was someone, it could be felt that he was “Mr. Teacher”.
And what did the apostles see and experience? And what are we to do and should we do today, to go back, to teach when Jesus speaks to us too: “When you pray, say…” (Lk 11:2n.). Jesus knew that He would return to the Father; he knew that He would ask the Father for the Holy Spirit for us so that in the Holy Spirit, we would know, want, and be able to address the Father as “Our Father”. Therefore, we need to be more aware that when we are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus, we are also sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father. In such a case, the first word “Father” – the address in the prayer we call the most beautiful because the Lord Jesus Himself taught it to us, is appropriate. We are aware that we must not only be disciples of the Lord Jesus, that is, be with Jesus only on an intellectual level, but we must and want to be the closest ones, and therefore we have the right to this address, and we must not forget this address. Today, it is a direct challenge to each of us; to return to such prayer,

in which we will be in direct contact with God. It is not enough, it must not be enough, and we must not settle for something chronic, learned, done out of fear, but lived with love.

It is right when we pray with the heart, renounce our “I,” and pronounce “thou”. It is beautiful to realize that I am saying “you” to God and not “you.” This level of contact speaks of a love we should not forget. In the same way, it is right that we realize and do not pray only for ourselves. We do not say my bread but our bread, and we do not say forgive me my sins but forgive us our sins, just as we do not say lead me not into temptation but not into temptation.
We will understand this by example:
Two Buddhist monks met. One was elegant, fine, cleanly dressed, the other was returning from a construction site, covered in mortar. The sleek man says, “You look like a pig!” The further replies, “I see a child of God in you.” “How is it possible that, after my insult, you look at me like that?” He received this reply, “He who carries an animal in himself sees the animal in others; he who carries God in himself sees him in everyone.”
St. P. Maximilian Kolbe. He stained his vestments with mortar as he built and came to Cardinal Sapiens at the Archbishopric. His secretary refused to let him in, so filthy and drove him out shouting. At the cry, the cardinal came out. When he saw Father Maximilian, he knelt before him and asked for his blessing while the young secretary disappeared unnoticed. (Great Jubilee, August 1998, pp. 50-51)
Prayer for others and example must not be absent from our lives. We see this in the Old Testament narrative when Abraham asks God not to punish Sodom and Gomorrah, even though their sin was very significant (cf. Gen. 18:20-32). The Lord Jesus teaches us to do the same. Prayer for others must not be absent from our lives. Such a prayer is “Feri ultra”. It cleanses and removes the filth, the sin, from among us.

It is beautiful and suitable when Christian mothers teach their children to pray. But prayer must not become a rote poem. Then it would be a repetition of what many struggles with today, that they just recite something and yet do not feel God’s love for them and their love for God. We don’t want to be among those who pray only occasionally, sometimes. We don’t want to know God only when we have to ask, but in our lives, we also want to thank God, forgive God, adore God, and praise God. This is what today’s Eucharistic celebration is meant to serve us when at the beginning of the celebration, at the priest’s invitation, “Brothers and sisters, let us confess our sins so that we may celebrate the Holy Mysteries with a pure heart,” we are reminded of the invitation, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (Lk 11:1).

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3 Responses to Seventeenth Sunday C in Ordinary Time, Luke 11, 1-13

  1. hepatitis says:

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  2. Peter Prochac says:

    Your comment encouraged me. Thank you.

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