Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Our Gospel today brings to us one of our favorite prayers, the Lord’s Prayer, which almost everyone has memorized. We hope that as we recite this prayer, we recognize the presence of Jesus, we interiorize what we pray, and we get to know fully Him to whom we pray.
When we pray the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples:
– We proclaim God as our Creator and Father, and we acknowledge that we are His sons and heirs of His Kingdom. He does not selfishly keep for Himself all His power, but shares them with His children. St. Paul says: “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” (1Cor 12:4-7).
– We await His Kingdom, as we await God Himself. We are given the opportunity to receive Him through Jesus and in the Holy Spirit, especially in the Eucharist, for He gave us hearts that can contain Him and His love; yet our hearts collapse when they contain our whims and selfish desires. Thus, in this Kingdom now, we have to obey His commands. We trust that He will provide for us our needs, as long as we seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all (these things) will be given us besides (cf. Mt 6:33).
– God is Creator and Father, and utilizes each one of us to support one another, especially the needy. We do not only ask God to supply our own needs, but also those of others, for we are all His children. In fact St. Paul teaches us: “God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work…. The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2Cor 9:8-10).
– Jesus is well aware that people tend to accumulate worldly goods and luxuries, and seek the convenience of affluence, thus become so comfortable that they succumb to the dangers of stinginess, greed and lethargy. This prayer that Jesus gave us, when internalized and lived, becomes a powerful way of reaching out to neighbors, and a way out of selfishness and indifference.
– Besides the basic necessities of life, the first ingredient for world peace and personal joy is forgiveness. St. Paul says: “If you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another… Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another” (Gal 5:15 & 26). Family conflicts and wars between nations exist because people are unforgiving. They pray, but they want their wills to dominate. So true was what Jesus said: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words…. If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (cf. Mt 6:7-15).
– Hence, we focus our eyes on God, so that He can protect us against evil. Yes, many times we lose our focus on God and on the things of Heaven, particularly because we live in a world where things are visibly attractive. When we lose our focus on the things of Heaven, the devil takes over, and deceives us away from God.
Nevertheless, our hearts are made to contain God and His ways. St. Augustine wrote: “It is you who move man to delight in your praise. For you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you” (2nd Reading, 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Office of Readings).
We celebrate the Eucharist with our families and with the community, for in communion with them, we are also in communion with Jesus. With Mary, the Mother of Jesus, let us focus our attention on His Body and Blood and on the Church, a family of brothers and sisters in Our Father. Our Catechism teaches us that “if we pray the Our Father sincerely, we leave individualism behind, because the love that we receive frees us from it. The “our” at the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, like the “us” of the last four petitions, excludes no one. If we are to say it truthfully, our divisions and oppositions have to be overcome” (CCC #2792).
Our love for the Body of Christ leads us to persons other than ourselves, “for there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist” (1Cor 8:6).