All That I Have Written Is Straw. . .

Meanderings of a Catholic Devout

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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“For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:10)

I sat in Mass this morning and got a delicious dose of inspiration from the three readings that were assembled so well by the Magistrate.  (Genesis 18: 20-32; Colossians 2: 12-14; Luke 11: 1-13)

The prevailing message was that of hope, or at least that’s what I took from it.  And then in the priest’s homily, he commented on the relevance of the Eucharist, too, and echoed my sentiments to a tee.  So I’m taking a few moments to reflect my thoughts on these readings and what they mean for my own personal life.

Genesis 18: 20-32:  God is Just.

Abraham is praying for the souls of Sodom and Gomorrah, after the Lord reveals His intentions to judge these cities because of the condemnations being sought against them.   And Abraham, understanding very well what the wrath of the Lord means, has the audacity to ask, “Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?”  And the Lord replies essentially that no, he will spare all the souls of the city for the sake of just 50 innocent souls. . .or even 45, or 40, or 30, or 20, or even just 10.  (Abraham persists in asking Him, each time reducing the number of innocent souls). 

Imagine the justness and mercy of a God that does that?   An entire, populous city of wicked souls saved for the sake of a few innocent ones?   It almost seems incredulous that one soul could save an entire race (fast forward this moral to Christ).  But Genesis 18 is demonstrating that God is patient in his justness.  How many times can I offend the Lord and he is quick to forgive?  Perhaps, like the souls in this reading, my one good deed, or intention, is worthy of God’s infinite mercy.  My sole moment of grace might be enough to spare the thousands of sins I commit in my lifetime.  Hopefully, I have more than one sole moment of goodness during the same time.  God’s Word gives me hope of that.  God is just—He notices the complaints, the injustices.  And He tolerates it out of love for the innocent.

“When I cried out to the Lord, you answered, you strengthened my spirit.” (Ps. 138:3)

Colossians 2:12—14: Christ’s Cross is Atonement for our Transgressions, Trespasses.

12 You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And even when you were dead (in) transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions;  14 obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.

There is hope!  Here is where Christ is the lamb offered in sacrifice for our atonement.  Let no one try to convince me otherwise. When I have problems that weigh down my heart, I try to remember the essence of this passage and bring those problems to the moment of Christ’s death.  Let my sins die with Him.  Let my soul be resurrected with Him.  My sins can only die when I let them go and take away the air that fuels their fire. 

Luke 11:1-13: Pray to the Father, with Reverence, and Be Persistent and Make a Clamor.

This is the passage that Jesus teaches us to pray.  As my priest said, “Prayer is the language of our faith:”  “Father, HALLOWED is Your name, Your kingdom come!  Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”  And then Jesus goes on to relate the parable of the man who asks his reluctant neighbor persistently to spare some extra loaves of bread to feed to a friend who has journeyed.  He mentions that the neighbor may not want to give for the sake of their friendship, but will at least do it out of the man’s persistent asking.  “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

There’s a lot for me in this passage.   I am reminded that I can ask for forgiveness, for God’s mercy (to be spared the temptation of evil).  But I am also told in the passage that there is more to prayer than to seek just my forgiveness.  I am told that I can pray for the sake of others, just as Abraham was concerned for the souls of the guilty being saved by the souls of the innocent.      It is also revealed that God wants me to genuinely want what I ask for, to have a deep desire to find what I am seeking (keep knocking on the neighbor’s door!  Be persistent in my prayers!  They are not unnoticed just because I don’t get them answered on the first call.  God hears the complaints and He is out to see for Himself. [cf. Gen 18 above].)

Oh how this rings so clearly in my own ears as truth!  When I was blinded by my own rationality, I kept seeking.  I sought under all sorts of stones.  For all of the frustrations I had in seeking and in not finding, God granted me a sweet, whimsical treat when He answered what my heart and soul most needed.  God does not spare the graces of the Holy Spirit, but He doesn’t offer them so readily to those who don’t want it.

I also want to note the point that my priest made regarding the Eucharist (from John Paul II’s encyclical).  “Give us each day our daily bread.”  We speculate that Jesus knew of his own sacrifice as the Bread of Life.  This prayer is not referring to the physical bread we digest, but the Bread of Life that our soul needs each and every day, i.e., Jesus Christ.  We are given such a gracious gift in the Eucharist that some of us fail to properly seek it.  Some of us don’t seek it because we are not in a state of grace (i.e., we have committed a mortal sin and have not yet confessed it), or we feel unworthy of it, or (most dreadful to me) we don’t have a hunger for it.

Not having a hunger for it?!  I completely understand to what the priest is referring.  There are many Catholics who just go through the motions of Communion.  They have never truly sought or understood the Eucharist.  They passed it for a test and forgot to reflect on it.  For me, since I’m not currently in a state of grace, I cannot receive the Eucharist.  And I often refer to that as a state of Hell, because I have the hunger for it.  I lick my chops, figuratively speaking, when I go near it and when I adore it.  I am almost envious of those who ingest it.  I smile at them as I watch them go one by one through the line.  I am saddened that some take it when they shouldn’t.  “Body of Christ, ” the Eucharistic Minister will say.   And we reply, “Amen.”  That is to say, “Fiat! I believe that this is the Body of Christ so profoundly, I would die for it.”

Written by Written Straw

July 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Catholic, Faith, Life

Tagged with , , , , ,

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