• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 26 July 2019 19:55

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C - 2019

Written by Fr Larry Nemer SVD


Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150Prayer and our relationship with God has always been a great mystery to me as a Christian and as a priest.

The Jews of Jesus’ time had a certain way of praying, using the Psalms and the writings of the prophets extensively in their prayers. Those who went out into the desert to hear John the Baptist preach were so impressed by him that they asked him to teach them how to pray beyond the ritual prayers they were already using. Unfortunately we have no example in the scripture of how John taught them to pray. It no doubt had something to do with repentance and a renewed commitment to the Covenant.

So it is not surprising that the followers of Jesus asked Him to teach them how to pray in a way that went beyond the ritual prayers they already said and the way of praying that John the Baptist taught them. In today’s Gospel Jesus, in addition to the many other lessons He had given them on prayer already, gives his disciples four important lessons about prayer.

First, He invites His followers to address God as “Our Father”. This would have sounded revolutionary to His followers. They, out of respect for and in awe of God, never used God’s proper name in prayer. Now Jesu taught them that they were members of God’s family and were to address God as Father. The father in the Jewish family had the responsibility of loving and caring for his wife and children. It was a very personal relationship. It is this kind of relationship that His followers have with God, a relationship that was so delightfully portrayed in the musical Fiddler on the Roof between Tevye and his daughters.

Secondly, if we are really members of God’ family, then we will be concerned about the same things that God is concerned about. So before we pray for our own needs and desires we are taught to pray that God’s love for humankind may be known throughout the world and that all people will love one another and live in peace and harmony. These are missionary concerns. These are what Jesus was concerned about, and they are to be our concerns as well.

Thirdly, we must be persistent in our prayer. I often thought that if any theologian used the comparisons Jesus used when Jesus taught about the importance of “bothering God” with our prayer – a reluctant neighbour to get up at night, an unjust judge – he or she would probably be scolded for using such a comparison when talking about a “loving Father”. But Jesus tells His follower to keep pestering God until God grants what they are asking for.

And fourthly – and this is where the mystery comes in for me – is that God will give us only what is good for us. People often tell me that they have prayed and prayed for something, but God does not seem to answer their prayer. It is sometimes hard for us to accept that what we are asking for might not be good for us. He says a loving Father would not give to his child who wants bread a stone (even though the stone nicely rounded and polished looks something like a loaf of bread), or a snake to a child who wants some fish (even though a snake can look like an eel), or a scorpion to a child who wants some food (even though a scorpion rolled up can look like an egg). We can trust that God will not give us a gift that seems to be “the answer to our prayer” but is really not good for us. It really is a mystery of trust.

I was taught this by a lovely young Catholic couple I knew in Cambridge. They had invited me to baptise their second child. The night before I left to join them the wife phoned and said: “don’t bother to come; the child died of cot death last night”. I said I would be there. That week-end I wanted to suffer their loss with them. I was angry at God for letting this happen to such a lovely couple. But they were the ones who kept repeating to me that week-end: “It’s OK, Larry. We don’t know why God as allowed this to happen, but we do trust that it was for our and Joseph’s (the name they had given the baby) good that God has allowed this to happen.”

We must pray persistently, but always trust that God will give us only what is good for us.