One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

July 25, 2010

For the Seventeenth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

For the Seventeenth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Genesis 18:20-32
Colossians 2:12-14
Luke 11:1-13

As the Gospel begins today we find the Lord Jesus spending time at prayer.
Then, at the request of one of the first disciples among us, he teaches us his words of prayer to the Father.
He goes on to tell us to persist in prayer.
Lastly, he upholds the heavenly Father’s great readiness to answer our prayer not merely with good gifts but with the very person of the Holy Spirit.
Before today’s Gospel, we listened to Father Abraham’s persistent prayers and God’s answers about the city of Sodom.
Abraham did not want to see men of justice— innocent, upright, righteous— die with Sodom for its grave sin.
He persisted in his prayer until he got the Lord’s promise not to destroy Sodom if there were at least ten just souls in it.
Like Abraham, our father in faith, we have a role to play in asking the Lord for his mercy on behalf of others.
You and I can also take the role of being at least ten upright souls of justice for the sake of mercy upon the world.
In fact, it is our mission to do so.
As today’s second reading from the Lord upholds, we were buried with Christ in baptism, and were also raised in him who obliterated the bond of sin that oppressed us— he “removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross,” and “he brought you to life along with him.”
Christ is the Innocent and Just One for whose sake and suffering the guilty may be spared.
If mercy, life, and salvation are to prevail in the midst of the Sodom of the world, then God must find justice and holiness in us who are baptized in Christ.
Why is there evil in the world?
One true answer is that not enough Christians are truly living lives of innocence, uprightness, and justice.
The Lord’s Prayer upholds justice from beginning to end.
It begins with reverence for the name of the Father and desire for his kingdom.
It ends with hope for our own persistence amid the final testing of the world.
After giving us the words of his prayer today, the Lord Jesus then unfolded further our need for persistence.
Then, at the end of today’s Gospel reading, he said the heavenly Father’s greatest answer for our prayer is to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
What happens when the Father gives us the Holy Spirit?
We say it every Sunday in the Creed: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the GIVER OF LIFE.”
“Giver of Life”— so the first and greatest answer to all prayer is that we come alive as the children of the heavenly Father because he gives us his Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life.
As the children adopted to heaven by the Holy Spirit, we are to pray to OUR FATHER that we may offer justice by our lives.
For to hallow his name and open to the coming of his kingdom and that his will be done is to commit ourselves in our prayer first of all and above all to do justice before our Father who is in heaven.
Otherwise we turn against the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, we foul our own worth as the children of God, and our prayer is as a lying outcry in the hearing of heaven.
It is in our Father’s gift of the Spirit that we receive bread each day, that he forgives us our sins, and that he upholds us through the final testing of the world.
Nonetheless, it remains our choice and responsibility to take hold of the gift and to work with it in our lives.
Sincere persistence in prayer demands sincere persistence in lives of justice.
As long as we face first the constant liability to hypocrisy in our own lives, we can ask honestly what we are to think, say, and do about Sodom and Gomorrah around us in the world today.
We find in the last lines of the Gospel today a path beyond our hypocrisy.
The Lord says: “If YOU then, who ARE wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children....”
Despite our sinfulness, we are to be as fathers and mothers to the world, praying for it, and offering up for its salvation the justice of the lives we choose to live.
In other words and signs from the Word of God, our fatherhood and motherhood for the world is how we are to be kings and priests.
Not only kings and priests, we are likewise to be prophets lifting up our voices against sin.
In the first reading, the Lord honored a prophetic voice by saying, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great.”
The outcry is also our mission.
We must do it with humility and watchfulness against our own hypocrisy.
So it is that in the Lord’s Prayer we are to say, “Forgive us our trespasses.”
The Lord’s Prayer, all his Word, and his Gospel today are fulfilled in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Here in his Eucharistic Body and Blood, Christ is worth more than any number of just and innocent men who might have lived in Sodom.
His Body and Blood bear the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, and so justice and innocence come to dwell in our souls and bodies.
By choosing to accept the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ, we commit to offer lodging and honor to justice and innocence in all that we think, say, and do.
If not, Sodom again will burn beginning with us.

That God Be Glorified in All


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