Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C –

posted 25 Jul 2022, 01:52 by Parish Office

Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C –

World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly (23 & 24/7/22)
What is prayer? Well, one definition is the raising of the heart and mind to God. Another way of explaining it could be to say that it is a way of spending time with God, Our Lady, the saints and the angels. It is sharing in the life of heaven. St John Vianney said that to pray and to love is our happiness on earth. He also said:
“Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When our heart is pure and united to God, we feel within ourselves a joy, a sweetness that inebriates, a light that dazzles us. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax melted together; they cannot be separated. This union of God with His little creature is a most beautiful thing. It is a happiness that we cannot understand.”

Prayer, of course, is not just about asking for things. Sometimes people use the word ACTS to summarise four different types of prayer:
“A” stands for adoration. This is where we just spend time with God, without even necessarily saying anything, but just adoring Him, a bit like sunbathing in His presence. In adoration, we show God how much we love Him.
“C” stands for confession. Just like the sacrament of confession, this means saying sorry to God for our sins, just like at the start of Mass, when we say the “I confess” or say “Have mercy on us, O Lord”, or “Lord, have mercy”. We recognise that we are not perfect and need God’s help and forgiveness.
“T” stands for thanksgiving. We have so much to thank God for, but so often we just take it all for granted. Sometimes we need to re-invigorate our attitude of gratitude and say thank you to God for so many wonderful things in our lives.
“S” stands for supplication, which is another word for asking for things. It’s not that God doesn’t know or pay attention to what is happening in the world, but He wants us to make our needs known to Him, a bit like a grandson asking his grandmother for his favourite meal. She just loves to be asked and loves to make him happy!

In the Gospel we see other forms and advice on prayer. We can pray using prayers composed by others. The Our Father is a good place to start, as it was given by Our Lord Himself. It contains all that we need, a bit like a health food that has all the vitamins and minerals that go to make for a healthy body.

Our Lord encourages us to persist in prayer. Praying to God is not just like going to a snack machine, typing in the right code, paying for it, and there it is. It’s about a human-divine interaction, a personal relationship. There are also different forms and styles of prayer. Repetition and perseverance is recommended. We are to avoid vain repetition in our prayer, but not all repetition is vain. When we pray the Rosary, the Hail Mary’s become the background music whilst we reflect on each of the mysteries, or scenes, in the life of Our Lady and Our Lord. It’s a good way to spend quality time with them, when, if we were to just use our own words, we might have run out of things to say after five minutes. It’s also a prayer that Our Lady has encouraged us to say. When she appeared in Lourdes, she had a Rosary in her hands – a bit of a hint there. When St Bernadette began to pray the Rosary, she didn’t tell her off or say it was a waste of time. Then, later on in Fatima, she specifically asked us to pray five decades of the Rosary each day. The Rosary is a powerful prayer which can help change world events. Padre Pio referred to it as “the weapon”. But weapons aren’t much use if they are left gathering dust in a draw somewhere. An army won’t win any battles if its munitions are kept nicely polished in a museum. They have to be taken out of their display cases and be used – they are no good if they are allowed to rust.

In the first reading, Abraham prays and pleads with God to have mercy on the people of Sodom. What is happening here is not that Abraham is making God somehow change His plan. Rather Abraham is becoming more aware through prayer how merciful God is. He won’t destroy the town if there are fifty just men there, or forty-five, or forty, thirty, twenty or even ten. As we probably know, in the end God instructs the one virtuous family there to leave, and the place is destroyed. So one of the messages is that, through prayer, we can come to a deeper knowledge of God; God speaks to our heart, and our thinking begins to become more in tune with His.

So prayer is quite an amazing encounter with God, sometimes containing great sweetness. It is a privilege and a joy – life is wonderful when we make the most of it.