Thursday, July 25, 2013

Homily 17th Sunday Year C: Michael U Udoekpo

Homily 17th Sunday Year C: Michael U Udoekpo
Readings: Gen 18:20-32; Ps 138:1-3, 6-8; Col 2:12-14 and Luke 11:1-13

Prayer Is the Key to Christian Life,

 Prayer is the Key, Prayer is the Key, Prayer is the Master-Key; Jesus started with Prayer and ended with Prayer. Prayer is the Master- Key (Song).

This song not only puts in context what we celebrate today, but it simplifies the Scripture Readings we have just read. Today’s readings invite us to reflect on the importance and dimension of Christian Prayer. Just as we need keys to enter our homes, offices, cars, prayer leads us to God. Prayer puts us in touch with God. We communicate with God through prayer. We express our trust in Him. We encounter God through prayer. We speak with Him. We worship Him. We praise Him. We thank Him.  We petition Him. Through prayer we pour our hearts to God. We ask for what we need. Prayer is the Key to our relationship with God.

Beginning from his Baptism there is hardly any ministry that Jesus undertook without prayers. He would always appeal to God His Father, ABBA, whom he trusts. Soon after his baptism Jesus prayed in Luke 4, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me….” He prayed to change the Cana-Water into wine in John 2. In the multiplication of the bread and fish, and druing his entire healing ministry, he prayed. He prayed at the Last Supper and during his trials and agony. And even on the cross, Christ prayed Psalm 22, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?," (“My God, My God, why have you abandoned me,” cf. Matt 27:45-46). And even few seconds before his death he prayed, “Into your hands Lord, I commend my Spirit.”

I have heard some people asked why it took the disciple of Jesus so long before they would ask their master in today's gospel to teach them how to pray! I personally think they needed to observe a little more. Having observed, they found out what manner of man Jesus is (was): kind, humble, loving, generous to everyone, forgiving, trusting and very prayerful.  It is time for them to learn, to imitate Christ, “Lord teach us how to pray,” they appealed to Jesus, in today’s Gospel.

Jesus gives them an example of how to pray, or a model prayer, the “Our Father…”, “the Lord’s Prayer” which we often pray at least at every Mass we celebrate. It is brief, straight to the point and requires persistency and expectancy. I know there are many theories on prayer out there. But the six letters in the name CHRIST serves as a good pastoral mnemonic for the dimension of a Christian prayer. This is personal- but this might be useful to you too in your prayer life.

 The Letter “C” in the name of Christ reminds you that our prayer ought to be concrete, concise, brief and personal; the type Jesus prayed. It doesn't  need to be too long. Think of short payers like, "my Lord and my God, "Jesus Mary and Joseph," or "Lord have mercy on me I am a sinner."  Jesus teaches us that in our prayer we have to call God our Father. With this we acknowledge our dependence on Him. We cherish that Father- Son, or Father- Daughter relationship. This is very important.  God is our Father. Fathers and of course, parents provide for their loving children.  In the letter “H” in the name Christ, we discover that God is not only our Father, but he is Holy- “Hallowed be thy name.” A holy person is one we can relate to and faithfully trust. We trust in our Holy God, who is ever patient with us. God is so holy that, he does not wish us any harm, but always ready to provide all our needs without strings. When we pray, we can also see in the Letter “R” in the name of Christ, a God who is the Ruler and the Sovereign of all creation. He forgives and remits all our sins. And the more reason Jesus teaches us to say, “Thy Kingdom Come…” In our prayers we pray for the reign of God, his will, even through our civil leaders. 

The Letter “I” in the name of Christ reminds us of the incidence in today’s first reading (Gen 18:23-32), Abraham interceding for the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is what Our Blessed Mother Mary did for those who ran out of wine during wedding at Cana, in John 2. She said, "Son they have no wine." Our prayer must not be selfishly done. We should always remember to pray and intercede insistently for one another. Of course, Christ highlights this element of insistence or persistence in that parable of a friend knocking at his friends’ door late at night, for bread. In our prayers, God is that door of forgiveness, that door of blessings, that door of faith, hope and love that we must continuously knock. In the last two letters, “S” and “T” in the name of Christ, we see Christ as our Savior- in the Letter “S” whose face we must persistently seek. And the Letter “T” reminds us of temptations and evils which we pray the Lord to grant us the grace to overcome when we say, “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from all evil.”

Of course, the grace to overcome evil and to be freed from sins, goes back to the time of our baptism which St. Paul also acknowledges in today’s Second Reading. Paul says, “Brothers and sisters: you were buried with in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And even when you were dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life long with him, having forgiving us all our transgression…” (Col 2:12-14).
As followers of Christ may we pick up our key of prayer, learn from Christ how to trust God, and how to always pray patiently, lovingly, humbly, reverently and persistently for ourselves, for our neighbors(young and old, sick and healthy, rich and poor) and for the needs of our nations!