LUKE 11:13 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 11:5-13)

Jakarta, 6 October 2022

A Christian Pilgrim


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LUKE 11:13 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 11:1-13)

Jakarta, 24 July 2022 [17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C]

A Christian Pilgrim


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 (A biblical reflection on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C] – 24 July 2022) 
Gospel Reading: Luke 11:1-13
First Reading: Genesis 18:20-33; Psalms: Psalm 138:1-3,6-8; Second Reading: Colossians 2:12-14
The Scripture Text
He was praying in a certain place, and when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.”
And He said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  (Luke 11:1-13 RSV)
During Jesus’ life, one of His favorite spots for prayer was the Mount of Olives. On that site a Church has been erected called “Pater Noster Church” or simply “The Church of the Our Father.” In the arcade of the Church are thirty-two stone tablets upon which the words of the Our Father have been inscribed in thirty-two languages. It was possibly on the Mount of Olives that Jesus had been praying when His apostles came and asked Him to teach them how to pray.
The apostles were perhaps looking for a precise formula to us in prayer, but it was not Jesus’ intention to give them such. Rather, He wished to indicate to them the manner, the spirit, and the feeling they should have in prayer. The early Christians understood that it was the idea of the prayer that was important, and not the precise words.
The apostles were both surprised and amazed at Jesus’ answer. They were surprised at the brevity of the prayer. They had observed how Jesus Himself spent very long periods in private prayer. Naturally, they expected that He would possibly recite for them what He said in those extended periods of prayer. Also, at that time daily Jewish prayers were long and involved, comprising as many as eighteen benedictions. The apostles were amazed at the familiar term “Father” with which they were told to address God. It is true that the Jews thought of God as their Father; but in the entire Old Testament, God is referred to as a Father on only 14 (fourteen) occasions, and the Jews never dared to address Him as such in prayer. In the first reading today, we saw how careful even Abraham was in pleading with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah. Though he was bold in his approach to God, he was cautious not to appear brazen or imprudent. Abraham did not use the term “Father” but only “Lord.” So, we (you and I) can imagine how the apostles must have felt when they were told that they were to be more familiar with God than even the great Abraham was!
Jesus used the Aramaic word “Abba” for “father”. The English word simply does not have the same connotation. “Abba” was the word a little child used in speaking to his father. It was a homey, family-word. “Dear Father” comes close to the meaning, but perhaps our word “Dad” or even “Daddy” is closer. Jesus meant to show us the childlike trust we should have in prayer, no matter how old or sophisticated we may be. No wonder Jesus had such concern for little children. Only they can teach us the complete trust we must have in God; the absolute reliance on Him; the tender, loving affection that should be ours.
The word, however, has more than a psychological implication. It expresses a great truth that God as our Father is the source of all our life, spiritual as well as physical. Saint Paul, in the second reading today, speaking of baptism, wrote, “And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, …” (Colossians 2:13). God indeed gave us new lives in company with Christ. In baptism, God truly became our Father. He gave us a share in the same life that His divine son possesses in fullness from all eternity. And so when we pray, God sees in us the person of Jesus, and He can say of us, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Whenever we pray, especially at Mass, we should realize that we are not praying alone – that Jesus is living and praying within us and that it is He who makes our prayer so pleasing and so effective.
The Church has used the “Our Father” in the Mass for a very long time. Its use is recorded in Didache, a Christian book written before the year 1000, but it was probably used in the liturgy even before the gospels themselves were written. A very ancient custom places the “Our Father” at the beginning of the Communion rite. This use was no doubt inspired by the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” “Bread” is meant to include all of our necessities, but it signifies even more. Scripture scholars say that the word usually translated as “daily” really means “tomorrow”. We are saying “Give us tomorrow’s bread.” But the word “tomorrow” among the Jews did not mean merely the next day, but also the “Great Tomorrow”, the final consummation of God’s plan for salvation.
In a Christian sense, the petition is a prayer for that divine food, the bread of life. That will bring us to eternal life. That bread of life is the Eucharist. It is the divine food which nourishes and increases the life of Jesus within us. It is the great gift from our loving Father in heaven, a gift which on the “Great Tomorrow” will bring us to the fullness of our union with Jesus in heaven as true children of God our Father.
How fortunate we are that we can “pray with confidence to the Father in the words our Savior gave us.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I trust that You will do in me more than I can imagine as I take the Lord’s Prayer as the pattern of my prayer and my life. Amen.
Jakarta, 23 July 2022
A Christian Pilgrim

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