Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 111

And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you. 
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 

I cannot hear the story of Abraham without recalling his watching a pillar of smoke rising from Sodom and Gomorrah. This was the day after he and Sarah had entertained this peculiar God with an impromptu banquet; only hours after he had stood dickering with this Majesty over the fate of these towns. 

Standing alone on a distant hill, he must have said to himself, "What kind of god has named me as friend? Do I dare to count on his friendship? Do I dare to shy away from him? Who will support me if I avoid him? No one!" 

What desperate courage it took to remain as a friend of God! And yet he had no choice. He could not turn back, nor -- in the twin lights of reason and affection --  would he want to. 

When I was about ten years old my mother taught me how to ride a bicycle. I had seen her doing it, and every kid in the neighborhood, and I was ready to learn. She put me up on her rusty old "girl's bike", which weighed nearly as much as I did, and we shoved off. She ran along side with  one hand on the seat as she urged me to "Pedal!" Pretty soon, I got the hang of it. It's a skill, once mastered, never forgotten. 

I think some people, trained as Catholics, never quite got the pedalling part. Their parents or grandparents put them on the "seat" and ran along side with them, urging them to put some energy into, but they started slowing down as soon as the adult let go, and soon toppled like a kid who won't pedal his bike. And they complained, "Catholicism doesn't work for me!" 

If you're reading this blog I suppose you did meet that crisis of independence and you decided to stay in the friendship the Church offered you. You have endured a certain amount of grief as a Catholic -- perhaps embarrassment and shame --  and you have discovered the Lord still wanted you as his own and you had no choice but to remain in his love. Knowing what you know, only a fool would refuse the grace and blessing of discipleship. So do we keep the faith from year to year, generation to generation. God calls and we respond. 

Today's readings urge us to petition God with confidence for our own needs and the needs of others. Like Abraham, we represent our cities, states and nations. Our prayers must be raised up and they must be heard if God is to bless us. Prayer is a sacred duty, a privilege and pleasure; we cannot imagine life without it, no more than we can imagine bicycling without pedalling. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.