Sunday, July 24, 2016

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Help Others

Today's readings touch upon God's mercy and the fact that we have to be merciful to others as well.

In the first reading, we read of Abraham pleading for God not to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The people of these cities were too far gone. They practiced homosexuality, were unhospitable to others and were wicked (Ezekiel 16:48-50, Jude 7) .  There was no hope for these people. Nevertheless, upon learning of the justice God was going to impose on them, Abraham did his best to convince God not to follow through. He keeps asking God that if said number of people were innocent, would that be enough to stop the wrath of God.  God replies that He would spare the whole place for their sake.  We must be like Abraham and plead for others, especially sinners (James 5:16). Whether or not God will turn away His wrath from them is another story, but God is merciful (Psalm 103:8).  God hears us when we call out to Him just as today's Psalm tells us  We must thank Him always.  In Him, we have our being and existence (Acts 17:28).  God answers prayers. He may not answer them in the way we expect, but He does answer them. God gives us what we need, as opposed to what we want. Only God knows us and what consequences our actions and thoughts will have. He knows what is best.  This is why Christ died for us.  He released us from the bonds of death and sin.  We read in the second reading how we are buried with Christ in baptism. In baptism, we die to the world, so to speak (Romans 6:11, Colossians 2:20).  We live in it, but are not of it. We put up with the shenanigans of the world while looking up to Christ on the cross. Christ took all that holds us back from holiness and nailed it to the cross.  He redeemed us and is preparing a place for those of us who fight the good fight and do not let the world force us to look back like Lot's wife or the man with the plow who looked back (Luke 9:62, Genesis 19:26). 

Finally, in the Gospel, we read of Jesus teaching us how to pray.  This is one of my favorite passages. Here we have God teaching us how to pray. If that does not ring of awesome, then I do not know what does. Jesus teaches us the Lord's prayer.  He shows us to call God "Our Father." He reminds us that God is holy and that all things come from Him.  We rely on God for even our daily bread. This is our daily sustenance which I see as the Holy Eucharist.  Next, Jesus reminds us to be compassionate and merciful to others.  He shares a story of a friend who asks another friend for food to entertain another friend.  The friend who he knocks at the door of gets upset and refuses to offer him bread merely on their friendship, but on the other friend's persistence. We must do things for the right reason and not feel pressured to do it. If I give a homeless person food, I must do so because I want to sincerely help this person and not to "win points" with God. The act must be based on love, not my own personal gains. 

God will provide.  Whoever asks will receive and whoever seeks will find  Again, this does not mean God is a genie in a magical bottle granting wishes.  He will give us what we need, not what we want most of the time. Many atheists use this passage to attack God claiming that God does not answer prayers or does not give what people pray for. They have even used it against me regarding my gofundme page. They tell me to pray for money and not wait for generous people to donate because God will give to whoever asks. They say this with sarcasm of course.  However, we can see how ignorant they are in this regard. They do not understand the purpose of prayer  Let us continue to do good and not give a snake to those who ask for fish or a scorpion to those who ask for an egg.  Let us not be wicked like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.  God will reward us.  Let us be merciful.  May Jesus Christ be praised. 

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