Gospel Reflections

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 11:1-13

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Brigid Rose Tiernan

Published: July 28, 2019

 ‘Teach us to pray...’ one of Jesus’ disciples asked of him. How often in the three years of his public ministry had his close companions seen Jesus take himself apart from them, out into the midst of the natural world, and enter into a different form of communion with the Almighty? They would have all been familiar with the traditional Hebrew forms of prayer, both the words and the gestures that went with them. So, obviously, the question was asked because they recognized something special was happening here. Luke’s rendering of Jesus’ reply does not contain all that is usually recited when we pray the Our Father. This version is simpler, perhaps even truer to the original Hebrew Aramaic which Jesus would have used to give his answer

The simplicity and directness of it is quite startling. It reminds us of our need to acknowledge God’s otherness and specialness as Creator, our dependence on God’s creation and our human condition of weakness.  From this latter comes our failure not only to acknowledge God but also the hurt we often cause those with whom we share daily life and living.  Some Aramaic experts suggest that the line ‘Do not put us to the test’ is more correctly rendered as ‘Do not allow us to lead ourselves into trial’, acknowledging that we are responsible for the decisions we make, some of which do get us into trouble!

Luke goes on in the rest of the Gospel read today to remind us about the true nature of friendship, and how persistence in our request for help will penetrate through even a hard-hearted friend’s attempt to turn us away. The persistence theme is picked up in the first reading where Abraham’s persistence with God wears down whatever resistance God may have had. How persistent are we in bringing our own and the world’s needs to our prayer?

In the second reading we are reminded that since we have been baptized into the crucified and risen Christ there is really nothing that our Father/Mother God would be able to deny us if our approach is confident, humble, honest and persistent. Let us keep on keeping on!

On the other hand, too, our baptism into Christ puts us into a special relationship with each other which perhaps we sometimes forget. Do my sisters and brothers in the world feel equally able to approach me in their need? And am I able to ask my brothers and sisters for help, rather than plodding on alone, when I am the needy one?

May the ‘ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you’  renew our confidence in God’s care of us, and help each of us be instruments of that care and concern in that part of the world in which we are planted.


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