17th Sunday In ordinary Time
In the Gospel reading this Sunday we see Jesus in a certain place praying when one of the disciples asked him to “teach us to pray”. Jesus then went on to give them one of the greatest of all the prayers we have which we now know as the Our Father. There are many things about the Lord’s prayer that could be said but the first thing to notice is that it is full of petitions of things that we are asking for. The first petition is that God’s name would be hallowed. The second is that God’s kingdom would come. The third is that God would give us our daily bread. And so on. The Lord ’s Prayer isn’t just a litany of praise to God, then. It isn’t just an expression of a pious wish that God’s will be done though we pray that the will of god will happen in our lives. It isn’t only a surrender of one’s own will to God. Just look at the request for daily bread. It presents to God what we would want God to give us but God gives us what he knows we need when he knows we need it. Having desires and presenting them to God are required by the Lord’s prayer. The second thing to notice is that people don’t generally get what they ask for. The Lord says ask and you will receive. I always say to people that God gives you exactly what you need when he sees that you really need it not what you want when you think you need that particular thing and this has been the case so often in my own life and in my dealings with other people.
But how many people around the world pray the Lord’s prayer and go without food that day? And food is only the beginning. Every mass we ask God for healing: “Only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Then we lug our sinful, sick, and sorrowful souls around another day.
So this is the third thing to notice. Jesus doesn’t promise that we will get the very thing we ask for. He says that if we ask, we will receive; but he doesn’t happen to mention what we will receive and when we will receive it. If you think about it, you can see the point. If a sick person could heal himself, he would be the doctor, not the patient. The patient’s job is to want to get well. It is the doctor’s job to figure out how to get him well. In the same way, the Lord’s prayer requires us to trust God enough to tell him what we want—over and over and over. Our job is to ask continually. God’s job is to figure out what to give us that will really fill us and heal us. So we might not get what we ask for. But as long as we keep asking, the Lord promises that we will receive—grace, pressed down, shaken together, running over, and gently given, from the God who loves us. Our Lord and Saviour wants us to attain the joy of the heavenly kingdom, and so he taught us to pray for it, promising to give it to us if we did so. “Ask, he said, and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” in this year of faith we pray that when we ask for and seek faith we will receive it, when we knock at the door of faith it will be opened wide to us.