HOMILY & IDEAS

Gn 18:20-32; Col 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13.

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots.

My thoughts this week will focus on the first reading from the Book of Genesis.

I have a vivid memory of this reading from my days as a summer intern during my seminary years. I was stationed at Our Lady of the Angels in the city of Worcester for 10 weeks during a very hot stretch of summer. It was the practice at that parish for the summer intern to attend every weekend Mass and by the 5th Mass on Sunday afternoon this particular reading began to drive me a bit batty.

One of the obvious preachable themes here is the patience and mercy of God; however a by-product of the repetitive literary style causes one to want to leap to his feet during the 5th proclamation on a hot, Sunday afternoon and yell out -- I get it already! I get it already! Do we have to go all the way through the dialogue between Abraham and God that runs through the 50 innocent people, then the 45 innocent people, then the 40 innocent people, then the 30 innocent people, then the 20 innocent people, and finally the 10 innocent people? I get it! The point is that GOD IS PATIENT AND MERCIFUL -- I GET IT! Can we just jump right to the 10 innocent people and hit the punch line?!

I barely restrained myself -- but I am glad I did; for I might not be where I am today if a Summer evaluation included an episode of Jim completely losing his marbles at a hot, Sunday afternoon Mass at Our Lady of the Angels.

I love that particular memory; for the literary device from this story works beautifully. It seems to make the listener impatient and creates a natural contrast between the patience of God and the impatience of man.

God never answers back to Abraham -- Hey, now you are pushing it -- Watch it! Do not get above yourself! No more questions for you!

Instead we experience a patient and merciful God who enters into dialogue with His creation. God listens, God responds, God reacts to what Abraham requests. It is a model of prayer and it could certainly be another preachable theme for this weekend. Abraham offers an intercessory prayer for the innocent people in Sodom and Gomorrah and it saves their lives. A homily that speaks about the importance of continuing to pray for those in need would work well here. Reflecting on all the prayers that may have been offered for you over your lifetime may make for a great preachable theme too. Exactly how many jams did the prayers of our holy grandmothers get us out of? I shudder to wonder!?

If you are like me you might reflect from time to time on all the second chances you have been given over your lifetimes -- times when it seems that God would have been perfectly justified to reduce you to a pile of ash and be done with you. Still, by the Grace of God that did not happen and here we are. Gratitude for second chances makes us humble and accepting of others -- wherever they are on their journey. We may think to ourselves -- been there, done that, God had patience with me, God showed me mercy, God helped me -- Now I want to do the same for someone else who is struggling to live a holy and pure life. I want to open a door for that person rather than slam one and wish him good luck.

The Gospel this week tells us a lot about prayer. Be persistent. Ask for what you need. Be assured of the concern of God for you. It does not say: Give it one shot and see what happens. Be stoic and only pray for others. Feel like a needle in the haystack while reflection on the overall population of the world.

Between the model of prayer that Abraham provides in his dialogue with God and the direct advice that Jesus Himself gives us regarding prayer, a homily centered on the importance of praying every day for our needs and the needs of others will do well.

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