Homily for Seventeenth Sunday C22 Jul 2016, by Sermons in
A week ago, we read how God’s angels visited Abraham; in continuation of that same passage from the scripture, we see the same angels left Abraham’s house and made their way towards Sodom.
Sodom and Gomorrah was a land demonized by the spirit of immorality, the outcry against these cities reached God’s ears. God planned to destroy the cities; he made his plans known to Abraham. Abraham pleaded for mercy for the sake of the few righteous people in that cities.
It is not strange that Abraham pleaded for the people; we are all intercessors, we intercede for each other, intercede for our children and families before God. What struck my attention in Abraham’s interactions with God is the combination of an intimate relationship, boldness, humility, and faith with which Abraham pleaded. He asked God if he would save the cities if only fifty righteous men were found there, and God said he would not carry out the destruction. Abraham asked again; what if they are forty-five? God said he would not destroy it. He continued to ask until he got to ten, and God still said he would not carry out his plans.
What transpired between Abraham and God goes a long way to tell us about prayer and God’s patience. Prayer is indispensable in a Christian’s life; a prayerless Christian is yet to begin to live the Christian life. Jesus himself lived a life of prayer, and his apostles admired him; one of his disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. The prayer life of Jesus attracted the apostles; they saw in him the need and the beauty of prayer. Jesus often withdrew from the people to be alone with the Father, commune with the Father, and relate with the Father. Jesus taught the apostles how to pray; he taught them the prayer we call today the Lord’s prayer. He taught the apostles to call God Father and not master; they were to relate with God as Father and children, not as boss and subordinate. Prayer is about a relationship; we see that in Abraham’s interaction with God.
Abraham would not have interceded before God the way he did if he had no personal relationship with God; prayer grows out of our relationship. Jesus communed with the father frequently because of the relationship he has with his father; Abraham interacted with God the way he did because of the relationship he had with God. There is always a difference when two close friends talk; they are freer, relaxed yet respect each other.
God is not a stranger, so Jesus taught us to call God our Father. We are challenged today to develop a close and healthy relationship with God as our father, for we did not receive the spirit of timidity but the spirit of boldness.
Abraham was bold because of his relationship with God, but in his boldness, he humbled himself. In prayer, we must humble ourselves before God; the holiness of his name must be respected. Jesus taught his apostles to say, “may your name be held holy,” and Abraham bowed in humility when God in his angels visited him. We must, in all our prayers, acknowledge God as all Holy Lord and Omnipotent creator. Abraham was not foolishly bold; in his boldness, he acknowledged the Holiness and greatness of God.
Abraham pleaded with God with faith, and Jesus tells us to ask, and it will be given to us. Prayer without the hope of being heard is a faithless prayer; faith in God empowers our words in prayer. Prayer is not about words; it is not about the length of time but faith. When the apostles asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he taught them the short prayer we call the Lord’s prayer. He made them understand the uselessness of babbling about knowing how prayer is about faith and persistence.
We are encouraged today not to give up on the power of prayer even when it seems no answer is on the way; God hears every prayer of faith. What seems to be divine silence is not divine absence. Prayer is like the air we breathe; we cannot do without it. To stop praying is to stop breathing, which is spiritual death.
St. Paul reminds us this morning that we died because we sinned, but Christ has brought us to life by his own resurrection. We are people of the resurrection, people of prayer.
However, it is unfortunate that many Christians reduce prayer to the level of mere begging; prayer is more than that; it is an act of worship. When you see prayer as merely an act of begging, you get tired and frustrated when you don’t get what you want. But when you see it also as an act of worship, you find yourself praying in good and good times. Our God is a patient God; he was patient with Abraham and has not changed; he is the same yesterday and forever.
Therefore, let us pray at this Mass for the spirit of revival, revive our prayer life, and never give up on God.