The main themes of today’s Scripture readings are the power of intercessory prayer, the Our Father as the ideal prayer, and the necessity for persistence and perseverance in prayer with trusting faith and boldness. In short, the readings teach us what to pray and how to pray.
Scripture lessons, summarized: The first reading, taken from the book of Genesis, gives us the model for intercessory prayer provided by Abraham in his dialogue with God. Although Abraham seems to be trying to manipulate God through his skillful bargaining and humble, persistent intercession, God is actually being moved to mercy by the goodness of a few innocent souls. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 138), with the Psalm Response, “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me,” is a hymn of hope and trust in the Lord, reminding us that God is close to the humble of heart and to all those who call upon Him in their need.
The second reading, taken from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, though it does not address prayer, reminds us of the need of perseverance in our living faith in Christ, which provides the basis for all Christian prayers, especially for liturgical prayer: the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul assures us that even when we were dead in sin, God gave us new life through Jesus and pardoned all our sins. In the Gospel passage, after teaching a model prayer, Jesus instructs his disciples to pray to God their Heavenly Father with the same boldness, daring, intimacy, conviction, persistence and perseverance Abraham displayed and the friend in need in the parable employed. He gives us the assurance that God will not be irritated by our requests or unwilling to meet them with generosity.
1. Prayer is essential for Christian family life. To remain faithful in marriage, the spouses must pray, not only individually, but together. They must thank God and offer intercessory prayers for each other, for their children and for their dear ones. Daily prayer will help married couples to celebrate and reverence God’s vision of human sexuality and honor life from conception to natural death. Here is St. John Marie Vianney’s advice to a couple: “Spend three minutes praising and thanking God for all you have. Spend three minutes asking God’s pardon for your sins and presenting your needs before Him. Spend three minutes reading the Bible and listening to God in silence. And do this every day.”
2. We need to accept others as children of God and thereby our brothers and sisters: Through the Our Father, Jesus is giving us a new vision of human relationships: that we all, irrespective of our color, creed or social background, are the children of God and thereby are brothers and sisters. When we learn this lesson – if we can learn this lesson, if we are able to treat God as our Father and love Him accordingly, and if we are able to treat every other human being as our own dear brothers and sisters and love them accordingly — then, and then only, shall we experience the Kingdom of God here on earth and enjoy this in the next life. When we love each other and forgive each other’s failings God also will love us and forgive us. This is the foundation of true faith. (Joe Vemp).
Reflection by Fr. Tony Kadavil