Reflection: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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[1st Reading – Gen.18:20-32; Ps.137; 2nd Reading – Col.2:12-14; Gospel – Lk.11:1-13]

It is clear that prayer, and therefore constant union with the Father, was very important in Jesus’ life.  This was clearly noticed by those close to Jesus and today’s gospel starts by one of them asking Jesus to teach them to pray.  Jesus taught them the ‘Our Father’ the prayer that makes us one with God the Father in heaven and between ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jesus took advantage of his disciple’s request and continued his teaching on the importance of prayer in one’s life.  Jesus tells them a story in which ‘a friend’ goes to a friend of his ‘in the middle of the night’ and asks for ‘three loaves of bread’ because another friend of his ‘on his travels has just arrived’ to his house and he has nothing to offer him.  Jesus speaks about ‘friends’ and friends ‘in need’; people who should know each other and therefore people who can understand each other because they are friends.  The friend who was ‘inside the house’, however, did not have nice words in reply to the ‘friend’s’ who knocked on his door, ‘Do not bother me’!  He tells his friend that he is already in bed and he cannot give him anything.  In such a situation, Jesus says that if the man does not get up and give the loaves to him ‘for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants’. Therefore the first element of prayer is Persistence.

Jesus continues to build on his teaching on prayer and he explains what one should do to receive what he is asking for.  Jesus tells his disciple: ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you’ because ‘the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him…’  Jesus also makes a comparison between the fathers on earth to the Father in heaven.  He assures the disciple that when one prays persistently, the Father in heaven is ready to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for him.  However, are they (the disciples) ready to receive the Holy Spirit?

Jesus is teaching his disciples (and us) to pray properly.  Often we hear people say “I pray, but God does not seem to listen to me”.  Actually, this is not true!  It is the other way round “I pray, but I do not listen”.  We utter words, but we do not listen to Him!!!  Therefore it is not enough to pray in order to say what I want.  Praying properly is about knowing how to ask, knowing where to search and knowing where and which door to knock.  In other words one has to learn to pray and therefore put one same self in the attitude of prayer which means that I persistently pray and God the Father knows what is best for me and therefore it is for Him to decide what and when to give me what I need.  That is why I also need the Holy Spirit to help me in my weakness, to help me be persistent and to help me to believe in the Father’s love for me.

“Lord, you taught your followers how to pray.  Help us to pray and be open to accept the Holy Spirit which the Father is ready send to guide us to pray to the Father in Heaven and to make of us brothers and sisters in Christ.  Thank you Lord!”

“Lord, like Martha and Mary, we welcome you into our house, and at the same time we ask you to help us learn to listen and to pay attention to what you have to say.  Thank you Lord!”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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