July 24, 2022 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/072422.cfm)
When I was young, I was always fascinated to see the elderly in our family praying. Their patience and endurance in kneeling from the beginning to the end was amazing. However, I would feel that the prayers would almost take forever to finish. Few minutes after the prayers like the rosary and novena would begin, I would also fall asleep in the comfort of my mother’s lap.
Remembering the persistence of our elderly and grandparents in praying, reminds us too of this day of the 2nd World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly. And so, with love and concern, we acknowledge the presence of our elderly and grandparents who are here present in this Mass today. We thank them for their presence and in showing us the blessings God offers us even in our old age.
Such way of life of caring for others, of peace and being attentive to those in greatest need, is what we have heard in today’s first reading from the Book of Genesis. Abraham who was already an elderly at that time showed this concern and care for others by pleading before God to show mercy. Abraham had this audacity to somehow “bargain” before God in saving the people of Sodom even if there were only few righteous people. Abraham’s concern was in fact, to save the people from damnation. His tenderness was being shown in his intervention or intercession in behalf of the people.
God, certainly, showed compassion to the people because through Abraham’s prayer God also sees and finds the goodness in us. Indeed, this is how prayer is also being transformed into care and into tenderness towards others which gives life, promotes life and heals life.
This way of praying as a sign of care and tenderness for others is also alive in Jesus. Our Gospel today would even tell us that when Jesus finished praying, his disciples came and asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” The disciples must have also felt and witnessed how Jesus’ way of praying created big impact to the people whom Jesus helped and ministered. The very way of life of Jesus that is grounded in prayer became more evident in his actions. Jesus brought healing to the sick, forgave the sinners, and freed those who were possessed by evil spirits.
The life-giving way of praying of Jesus captivated and motivated the disciples to learn the way of Jesus’ praying. And such humility to learn the way of life of Jesus in praying, allowed the Lord to teach them the basics of prayer.
God, as Jesus introduced to us, is our Father. By calling God as our father, this brings us into closeness and intimacy with God. God would surely love being called as our Father, whose only desire is for us to grow in love.
This tells us that our prayers and other forms of devotions are not meant to impress others or to flatter or manipulate the Lord because of our long, wordy and unintelligible prayers. What the Lord wants from us is our sincere and humble heart that recognizes God as our Father, growing in confidence and closeness with God.
The Lord’s Prayer brings us also into sincerity and humility because the prayers acknowledges first God, as our Father whose “divine will” takes priority than our own. We seek and recognize the will of God for us and not our wants. This brings us to be more aware of our needs and the needs of others in this present moment, of today, and not to be burdened by our past or to be anxious of tomorrow.
This is very important to remember that the prayer Jesus taught to us, allows us to be more aware of our present moment, of our needs, the needs of others as well as the graces of the here and now. This will certainly make us more contented and confident in life for we shall see how God provides and works for us in the present moment.
Hence, on this 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time and 2nd World Day of Grandparents and Elderly, there are three invitations for us.
First, learn the way of Jesus in praying by becoming confident and intimate with God as our Father. We shall grow in that confidence by allowing ourselves to trust God and His ways for us in our daily life.
Second, make our prayer as a sign of our concern and tenderness for others. Like Abraham who pleaded to God in behalf of the sinful people, let our prayers too not be self-centered by only praying for our personal needs and wants, but also to be able to pray for others and their needs.
Third, let our prayers be translated into our actions. Like Jesus whose prayer brings life, healing and freedom to many, let our actions grounded in our prayers also bring life, healing and freedom in our relationships with other people. Kabay pa.
 Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Second World Day for Gandparents and the Elderly; 24 July 2022