July 28, 2019 — Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The teachings of our Catholic faith are inexhaustibly deep. However, they also are amazingly simple.
Today’s readings take us back to the basics, reminding us how we as Christian stewards are to approach our relationship with God and others.
The First Reading gives us an early glimpse of the extravagance of God’s mercy revealed in the very first book of the Old Testament. In this passage from Genesis, we find Abraham testing the limits of God’s kindness and patience with His people. God tells Abraham that despite the terrible depravity in Sodom and Gomorrah, for the sake of just a handful of innocent people, He would spare them all. This passage illustrates two basic truths of Christian stewardship: what an infinitely loving God we serve and what a privilege we have in our gift of faith, a gift that we must share for the sake of others.
The Second Reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians reminds us of this basic stewardship truth: Christ “brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us… nailing it to the cross.” Jesus loves us so much that he took on our sins to free us from death and offer us eternal life. What a generous Savior we have who gives us the gift of eternal life. This truth should fill us with overwhelming gratitude, inspiring us to share our lives generously with others as faithful disciples of our Lord.
The Gospel reading from Luke takes us back to the basics of prayer, offering us both a method of prayer from Jesus Himself and the encouragement to persist in prayer. In this passage, some of His disciples ask our Lord to teach them how to pray. Jesus instantly offers them the beautiful prayer which we, of course, call the Our Father. This prayer is so rich that it still forms the basis of our approach to God the Father over 2,000 years later.
At the same time it is so simple, we teach it as a first prayer to young children.
The Our Father is truly a steward’s prayer. In it, we call upon God in an intimate way, as Father. We ask that His will be done (not ours!) and that His kingdom come (not ours!). In other words, we remember that He is our Creator, everything is His, and our focus in life should be on His priorities, not our own. Then we ask Him to supply our needs (to give our daily bread), forgive our sins, and protect us from evil. That is, we proclaim that we trust completely in His provision for us and mercy towards us. We, too, commit to extending mercy ourselves (as we forgive those who sin against us).
As we pray the words of the Our Father, we recognize this basic truth about ourselves and God: God is our Father and we are beloved and infinitely blessed to be His children. This is the basis of a stewardship way of life.
After giving us the Our Father, Jesus shares the funny little story of the man who bugs his neighbor for bread in the middle of the night. The man’s persistence pays off. How much more perfectly the Father will answer the prayers of His children when we persist in going to Him with our needs.
At the end of the Gospel passage, Jesus offers one more “basic” for us stewards about our relationship with the Father: Ask Him, seek Him, knock on His door! He can hardly wait to bless us, His children. Remember that this week, then go, be a blessing to others! Stewardship is just that simple.