Reflection on 17th Sunday: 24th July 2022

A Daily Rendezvous With God

In some way our prayer is diagnostic of our life. How we pray says much about our relationship with God. ‘The early church fathers, when greeting each other, did not ask about health, life, family, or anything else. Instead, they would ask, “How is your prayer?”1 ‘So when one of the disciples sees that Jesus “was in a certain place praying,” and asks him “Teach us to pray,” we can be pretty sure the disciple is asking for more than simply words or techniques. There is a longing and desire deep within him.2

‘In Jesus’ teaching and example, we notice the prayer of words in the Our Father and his encouragement to “ask” and “knock”. But Jesus also taught prayer beyond words: praying in secret (Matt 6:5-6), not babbling on as the Gentiles do (Matt 6:7), or his pre-dawn, lonely prayer (Mark 1:35), because your Father knows what you need even before you ask (Matt 6:8). We need ‘unsaying’ prayer, the prayer of quiet or contemplative prayer, to balance out and ground all ‘saying’ prayer.’3

Today’s first reading and the gospel reading emphasise persistence in prayer. ‘We need a daily rendezvous with God, with nothing on our agenda but love. There we will be taken to the deeper place where we discover the spark of the divine that is in our hearts’4 ‘While our prayer of words is an attempt to express to ourselves our relationship with the Great Mystery, the prayer of silence is not so much to express but to experience that mutuality. We acknowledge and rejoice that we are the beloved. We sit and wait until we know this truth in our body and in our memory. Anything we stay with long enough changes us, not God’3 ‘God gives God’s self as the answer to our every prayer.’2

The Salt Doll5

A salt doll journeyed for thousands of miles over land, until it finally came to the sea. It was fascinated by this strange moving mass, quite unlike anything it had ever seen before.
“Who are you?” said the salt doll to the sea.
The sea smilingly replied, “Come in and see.”
So the doll waded in. The farther it walked into the sea the more it dissolved, until there was only very little of it left. Before that last bit dissolved, the doll exclaimed in wonder, “Now I know what I am!”

[1] Theophan the Recluse; [2] Michael Marsh; [3] Richard Rohr; [4] James Finley; [5] Anthony de Mello

First Reading Genesis 18:20-32

The Lord said, ‘How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin! I propose to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them that has come up to me. I am determined to know.’

The men left there and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Approaching him he said, ‘Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Will you really overwhelm them, will you not spare the place for the fifty just men in it? Do not think of doing such a thing: to kill the just man with the sinner, treating just and sinner alike! Do not think of it! Will the judge of the whole earth not administer justice?’ The Lord replied, ‘If at Sodom I find fifty just men in the town, I will spare the whole place because of them.’

Abraham replied, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this my Lord, I who am dust and ashes. But perhaps the fifty just men lack five: will you destroy the whole city for five?’ ‘No’, he replied, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five just men there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the forty.’

Abraham said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry, but give me leave to speak: perhaps there will only be thirty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this, but perhaps there will be only twenty there.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘ for the sake of the twenty’. He said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘For the sake of the ten.’

Gospel Luke 11:1-13

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray: “Father, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come; give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. And do not put us to the test.”‘ He also said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, ‘My friend, lend me three loaves because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it to you,’ I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

“So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?