July 23, 2022 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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A funny story once told about a man who was so envious about the faith & prayer life of his poor neighbor. Whenever he meets this elderly devoted neighbor, he would always test at a point of insulting her faith. Sometimes, he even would say, “your prayers and devotion do not lead you anywhere but more frustrations”. The old neighbor would just smile and keep her silence.

One day, he overheard his poor neighbor praying this way, “Lord Jesus, you taught us to ask for our daily bread. You know my food supply is just enough for this day. My hard-up son has not yet sent me something for tomorrow. I believe you know what is best for me. If it is your will, Lord, grant me what I need as you have always provided me. May your will be done.” After hearing this, the man went to the grocery and bought some food supply. Then, next day, he went to his neighbor’s house, put a bagful of grocery outside the door, hides behind somewhere and waited for his neighbor’s reaction. When the neighbor found the bag outside, she was happy and all praise to God for the graces before her. Suddenly, the man interfered and said, “Aha, got you. That bag of food is not from your God but from Me. See, your God doesn’t care for you”. In response, The old neighbor just loudly prayed, “Lord, many thanks for these graces you have given me here today… and for letting my good neighbor pay for it”.

Praying to God has always been part of our life. And in our efforts in praying, there will always a discontent within us with the way we pray – that somehow there is something missing or kulang in the way we pray, and we don’t know what and how. There is always a desire and longing for the best way of praying. Deep inside, we cry: “Lord, teach us how to pray”.

Our readings today are all about prayer, and teaching us how to pray. In our first reading, we hear Abraham made a persistent appeal to Yahweh in behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to be spared from His judgment. Jesus in our gospel today did not just teach his disciples what to pray but described them prayer as asking, seeking, and knocking for what we need from God. Meaning, prayer is our humble and trusting but persistent expression of our appeals, requests – of our heart’s desire to God before His presence. In other words, our readings today are teaching us that prayer is basically our LAMBING, paanga  or “Pamaraig” to God, our Father – our Tatay. 

Here, we are also reminded that God always listens to our prayers. God as our parent wants to listen to our heart’s desire. He knows and understands our needs and concerns, while he also wants us to come near Him and show our lambing – “pamaraig” to Him. Also, God always answer our prayers in His own time and ways. Yes, sometimes we feel frustrated with God for not answering our prayers. But the same way we experience our parents, God seems silent or passive with our prayers but actually he is discerning and planning what is best for us, better than what we prayed for. We are only to express our prayers – our pamaraig persistently, wait patiently and trusting that not long for now we receive more and better than what we expected.  Like what happened with the story, God has His own ways and time to grant our prayers. God always listens and answers our prayer in His own time and ways, (and perhaps allow others to pay for it. 😉)

For Jesus, it is not our desires, longings, needs, hungers, and cravings but it is LAMBING : our persistency, patient waiting and trust and confidence in God, our Father that matters. Remember in praying to God, it is not what we pray but how we pray it, not what we ask from but how we ask it from Him that matters. It is the manner of prayer, the pamaraig: the asking, seeking, and knocking that is significant, and not the content or outcome what you ask and seek. “For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Regardless of the what grace & how blessings are given, we now express our lambing/prayer to our Tatay-Father who loves us so dearly.


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