Readings, Gospel and reflection 24th July 2022

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 111

Reading 1

In those days, the LORD said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great,
and their sin so grave,
that I must go down and see whether or not their actions
fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me.
I mean to find out.”While Abraham’s visitors walked on farther toward Sodom,
the LORD remained standing before Abraham.
Then Abraham drew nearer and said:
“Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?
Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city;
would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it
for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?
Far be it from you to do such a thing,
to make the innocent die with the guilty
so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike!
Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?”
The LORD replied,
“If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom,
I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Abraham spoke up again:
“See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord,
though I am but dust and ashes!
What if there are five less than fifty innocent people?
Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?”
He answered, “I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there.”
But Abraham persisted, saying “What if only forty are found there?”
He replied, “I will forbear doing it for the sake of the forty.”
Then Abraham said, “Let not my Lord grow impatient if I go on.
What if only thirty are found there?”
He replied, “I will forbear doing it if I can find but thirty there.”
Still Abraham went on,
“Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord,
what if there are no more than twenty?”
The LORD answered, “I will not destroy it, for the sake of the twenty.”
But he still persisted:
“Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time.
What if there are at least ten there?”
He replied, “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”

Responsorial Psalm

R.(3a) Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name.
R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees,
and the proud he knows from afar.
Though I walk amid distress, you preserve me;
against the anger of my enemies you raise your hand.
R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

Reading 2

Brothers and sisters:
You were buried with him in baptism,
in which you were also raised with him
through faith in the power of God,
who raised him from the dead.
And even when you were dead
in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
he brought you to life along with him,
having forgiven us all our transgressions;
obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims,
which was opposed to us,
he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You have received a Spirit of adoption,
through which we cry, Abba, Father.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you,
if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

If we were to take this statement of Jesus in a very literal way we could easily conclude that Jesus will give us anything we ask for in a prayerful way.  But we know this is not what happens.  Perhaps everyone has prayed hard for this or that and the request was not answered in the way we wanted.  Why is that?  Did we simply fail to pray with faith?  Will Jesus do whatever we ask of Him when we pray for it with all our might?  Certainly not.

This passage goes on to say, “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13).  Within this context, and within the context of everything that Jesus has taught us, it’s important to know that there is one thing and one thing only for which we ought to pray.  And when we pray for this one thing, we can be assured of obtaining it when we pray for it in faith.  What is that one thing?  It’s the will of God.

If we sincerely and wholeheartedly ask for and seek the will of God, we can be certain that our Lord will give us the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit will, in turn, lead us into the will of God for our lives.  The problem is that too often we end up praying that “MY will be done” rather than “THY will be done.”  This is an important difference.

True prayer is ultimately about trust and surrender to God.  We trust in His perfect plan and surrender to that perfect plan in our lives.  When we do this, we can be assured that the Lord will hear and answer this perfect prayer.

Reflect, today, upon that simple prayer in the Lord’s Prayer: Thy will be done!  Strive to trust in God’s perfect plan for your life and do all you can to surrender to it.  With this form of prayer we can be assured that the Holy Spirit will come to us, leading us into His holy will.

Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Jesus, I trust in You.