Fr. Tommy Lee says, “When I was in Florida recently I visited the Kennedy Space Center. I saw Cape Canaveral and the launch site for the space shuttle. In the Space Center I was able to look at and touch a moon rock. Through the miracle of modern science and space travel, I reached out and touched the moon! When we pray we leave this world and touch God.”
Theme for this weekend is prayer. In the first reading, we see Abraham’s intimacy with God. He pleads for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah by talking directly to God and asking God to change his plans. He doesn’t just ask, he is persistent in asking, pushing for more and more mercy each time. It may look like a comical dialogue. Like a little child who keeps asking and asking until they get what he/she wants. On the other hand, God is gentle and merciful.
We see in the Gospel Jesus himself goes to pray: intimacy with his Father. The disciples say, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." Jesus taught them to pray by using the intimate word “Abba” “Father” to address God. Our Father is a Father who listens to us. He is merciful. Psalmist say that God is true, he has a long memory for His own promises and a short memory for failure to keep ours. We have to trust in his love and mercy.
This prayer we all pray every day. This prayer begins with God, calling Abba, Father; a deep relationship between God and me. Then God’s purpose in my life, “Thy kingdom come and thy will be done.” Then it goes to our needs: “Give us each day our daily bread.” Then we say, “Forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us.”
Then we pray “Lead us not into temptation.” Pope Francis has officially approved a change to the translation of the Lord's Prayer to replace "lead us not into temptation" with "do not let us fall into temptation," which many scholars say is a better translation of the original text. The Pope said he thought the current English translation was not correct because it implies that God leads people into temptation, an action that is against his nature as a good and holy God. "A father doesn't do that, a father helps you to get up immediately," Francis said of the line in question. "It's Satan who leads us into temptation, that's his department."
In the Gospel, Jesus goes on after the prayer, further explaining the intimacy which God longs from us. He tells the story about a man who wants to be hospitable and is asking his neighbor to lend him some food to give his guests. When he doesn’t get the response he wants from his neighbor, he asks again, and again and again…persistence in asking made the neighbor to get up and give what he wants. Then Jesus praises the man for his persistence in asking.
At the end of the story, Jesus reminds us that God is there for us beyond our understanding. Every time we pray we touch God. Every time we come together to celebrate the Eucharist, heaven meets earth, God comes to us and becomes part of our life. Prayer changes us and others to be ready to receive the grace of God.
Prayer can change the course of history. So let us pray, pray, pray. “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.” (Luke 11:9-10)
The theme for this weekend is hospitality to God. The first reading and the Gospel painted very beautifully the hospitality to God.
Andrei Rublev, the great Russian icon painter, famous for his work in particular with his ‘Old Testament Trinity’: picturing the three angels welcomed by Abraham (Genesis 18 – today’s first reading). Christians see this scene as a prefiguring of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. This icon is also called ‘Welcome to the Stranger’. The table where they are seated has four sides. There are three seated figures; the fourth is an invitation to join them. Anyone praying with this icon for any length of time will feel that the invitation is somehow mutual: as you welcome the Divine Persons into your heart, they are inviting you to sit at the table with them. They are inviting you into the heart of God.
In the first reading on a hot day, Abraham sits at the entrance. He might have been enjoying the breeze on that hot day. All of sudden he saw the three men and recognized that it is the Lord. Abraham begged God not to pass by, but stay, so he can serve the Lord. Then he ran to the tent to prepare food.
In the Gospel we see, Martha and Mary welcome Jesus to their house. Martha and Mary, both have different styles of hospitality. Mary sits with Jesus and listens, but Martha wants to make sure everything is right for him.
Two aspect of spirituality: first, doing something like Martha and second, siting and receiving like Mary. Martha has become a symbol of action-oriented, responsible people who get the job done. Our world and our parish churches need such dynamic and generous men, women, boys and girls who get the job done. At the same we have to adopt Mary into our life too. The key to the Christian life is SETTING PRIORITIES: Jesus Christ first, then everything else. Active and busy as we are, we have to find time every day to listen to God, to our spouse, kids and neighbors. Listening and quiet caring are essential for the success of pastoral life, married life, family life and the rearing of children with love, affection and sense of discipline. Human love begins at home and it begins with listening.
God is passing by my/your home. Do we invite him? My heart is the place where he is welcomed. Mother Teresa often talked about the God appears in disguise: poor and needy. We need to give attention to see who is passing by us. Abraham paid attention, so he didn’t miss the Lord.
Little Tim was in the garden filling a hole when his neighbor peered over the fence. Interested in what the youngster was doing, he politely asked, "What are you up to there, Tim?" "My goldfish died," replied Tim tearfully, without looking up, "and I've just buried him." The neighbor said, "That's an awfully big hole for a goldfish, isn't it Tim?" Tim patted down the last heap of earth, and then replied, "That's because he's still inside your stupid cat."
This weekend readings tells us that God reveals in Scripture, in Jesus Christ and in our
neighbor. A scholar of the law asked Jesus a very basic religious question: “What should I do to
inherit eternal life?” In answer to the question, Jesus directed his attention to the Sacred
Scriptures. Jesus asked him, "How do you read it?" The scriptural answer is “love God and
express it by loving your neighbor.” However, to the scribe the word “neighbor” meant another Scribe or Pharisee – never a Samaritan or a Gentile. Hence, the Scribe insisted on further
clarification of the word “neighbor.” So Jesus told him the parable of the Good Samaritan.
It is tough story for the scholar to here. In this parable the Priest and the Levite “passed by on the opposite side.” They had their own reason. The law didn’t allow them to interact on that
situation. At the time of Jesus, Jews and Samaritans interact each other. They were enemies. Here Jesus describes the parable of Good Samaritan as the answer to the questions. The scholar might have asked himself, “Do you want us to be like that Samaritan, who is our enemy?”
The parable clearly indicated that a “neighbor” is anyone who needs help and anyone who gives that help. Thus, the correct approach is not to ask the question “Who is my neighbor?” but rather to ask, “Am I a good neighbor to others?”
The Good Samaritan’s story can take us to so many realms of life. The first and foremost thing is about the Good Samaritan is that “he came near,” while the priest and the Levite “passed by on the opposite side.” God always come closer our life. Jesus came in person to be with us. Clement of Alexandria sees the Samaritan as Jesus: “Who can this neighbor be but the Savior himself? Who but he has had pity on us as we lay almost dead from the dark forces of this world, with so many wounds, so many fears and passions, so much anger, so much sorrow, so much deception, so many deceptive pleasures? Jesus alone can heal these wounds.”
Origen of Alexandria writes about the story of the Good Samaritan, “The man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho is Adam. Jerusalem is Paradise. Jericho is this world. The thieves are the forces of the enemy. The priest is the Law. The Levite is the prophets. The
Samaritan is Christ. The wounds are disobedience. The horse is the body of Christ. The inn that is open to all who wish to enter is the Church. The two denarii are the Father and the Son. The inn-keeper is the pastor of the flock, whose duty is to care. The Samaritan’s promise to return indicates the Savior’s Second Coming.”
This weekend reading invites us to meditate on core of our faith: the root of the Ten Commandments, which is LOVE GOD and NEIGHBOUR. Who is my neighbor? Let us make a list our neighbors and see who are in and who are out of the list.