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Rough Cuts | Why ‘Our Father’

Today is Sunday, the last Sunday for the month of July 2019, It is also the 17th Sunday in Ordinary time of the Catholic Church liturgical calendar.

This Sunday’s Psalm is, “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.”

Today’s 1st Reading is from Genesis 18:20-32. It says:
Then Yahweh said, “How great is the cry for justice against Sodom and Gomorrah! And how grievous is their sin! I am going down to see if they have done all that they are charged with in the outcry that has reached me. If it is not so, I will know.”

The man with him turned away and went towards Sodom, but Yahweh remained standing before Abraham. Abraham went forward and said, “Will you relay let the just perish with the wicked? Perhaps there are fifty good people in the town. Are you really going to let them perish? Would you not spare the place for the sake of these fifty righteous people? It would not be at all like you to do such a thing and you can’t let the good perish with the wicked, nor treat the good and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the judge of all the earth be just?” Yahweh said, “If I find fifty good people in Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Abraham spoke up again, “I know that I am very bold to speak like this to my Lord. I who am only dust and ashes! But perhaps the number of the good is five less than fifty. Will you destroy the town because of the five?” Yahweh replied, “I will not destroy the town if I find forty-five good people there.” Again Abraham said to him, “Perhaps there will only be forty.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Abraham went on saying, “May my Lord not be angry, but let me speak. May be only thirty good people will be found in the town.” Yahweh answered, “I will not destroy it if I find thirty there.” Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to my Lord, what if only twenty can be found?” He said, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy the place.”

But Abraham insisted, May my Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found?” And Yahweh answered, “For the sake of the ten good people I will not destroy Sodom.”

Today’s 2nd Reading is from Colossians 2:12-14.
I refer to baptism. On receiving it, you were buried with Christ; and you also rose with him, for having believed in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

You were dead. You were in sin and uncircumcised at the same time. But God gave you life with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of our debts, those regulations which accused us. He did away with all that, and nailed it to the cross.

This Sunday’s Gospel is from Luke 11:1-13. It says:
One day, Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this,: Father, may your name be held holy, may your kingdom come; give us, each day, the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins; for we also forgive all who do us wrong; and do not bring us to the test.”

Jesus said to them, “Supposed one of you has a friend, and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is traveling has just arrived, and I have nothing to offer him.’ May be your friend will answer from inside, ‘Don’t bother me now; the door is locked, and my children and I are in bed, so I can’t get up and give you anything.’ But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a brother to him, and he will give you all you need.

And so I say to you, ‘Asked, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.

If your child asks for a fish, will you give him a scorpion? If sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

READ: Abraham negotiates with God the fate of Sodom. Saint Paul writes to the Christian community in Colossae, saying that God gave us life in Christ, forgave our sin, etc. In the gospel passage, Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray and stresses God’s generosity and the importance of persevering in prayer.

REFLECT: Three things may be noted in the prayer that Jesus (thought) taught the disciples: first, it was in a communitarian context that he taught the disciples how to pray. We say “Our Father” and not “My Father.” This would mean that people in the group/community/Church are in mind. Second, by addressing God as our “Father”, we share in Jesus’ relationship to God as Father. It is through Jesus that we are able to call God “Father”. And third, calling God “Father” brings us to a relationship of sisterhood and brotherhood to the other person who also calls God “Father”. A new and extraordinary relationship is formed with this person when we call God “Father”. The key here is the “call”; it is not a simple or meaningless “call” we use, but a profound address to God as our “Father”. When we approach God as “Father”, as Jesus did, then we can truly see the person next to us as a sister or a brother. That is why our prayer for daily sustenance, for forgiveness, and for deliverance from temptation, becomes also a prayer for the sisters and brothers who call God their “Father.”

NB: Our heartfelt thanks to the Claretian Communications Foundation, Inc., publisher of the book, Bible Diary 2019 from where we source the Word of God we are sharing with our fellow faithful.

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