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17 Sunday in Ordinary Time 24.07.2016

Dear sisters and brothers,

If you have ever gone to the markets or travelled overseas and bargained over the price of a purchase, you’ll know what Abraham is doing in the first reading. Good merchant that he is, Abraham is ‘haggling’ with God, trying to beat God’s price down, if you like. The continual pleas he makes for a lower number lend a rather wry tone to the conversation. This exchange is touching and exposes a deep friendship between God and Abraham. Abraham, the friend of God, knows that he can put pressure on God in this way – and get away with it.

In a similar way, Jesus draws on a deep relationship with the Father when he responds to a request from his disciples and teaches them how to pray. The disciples recognised that there was something special about the relationship between Jesus and the one whom he called “Father” and they wanted to share in that relationship. They wanted to pray the way Jesus prayed.

Jesus’ prayer begins firstly with the sole focus upon God, and God’s ‘agenda’ – that God’s name be held holy, that God’s kingdom come. Only after this, do the petitions turn to address human need – for food and sustenance, for forgiveness and, finally, for protection in the hour of trial. The prayer that Jesus teaches them begins by addressing God in a way that is characteristic of Jesus: as ‘Father’. The Greek word in the text is “pateras” (Father) but in all likelihood Jesus used the Aramaic word, “Abba” and perhaps “Dad” best translates it. Jesus’ use of this highly familiar title for God made such an impression on the early believers that they retained the Aramaic word “Abba”. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, and Pentecost, they found themselves ‘daring’ to call God “Abba – Father – Dad”. This is an extraordinary way to address the God of all the universe – “Dad”.

This prayer is so familiar to us and that we probably miss a lot of its beauty and power. The prayer is the prayer of a community that knows that it is the loved family of God. It is a prayer of a community that knows that it is on a journey through life, and in confidence and trust turns to their “Abba”, their loving parent, to ask for those gifts that only God can give. It is not only a prayer in itself, but also is a model for all prayer. We turn to God in the most intimate way. We mightn’t always get our way, but we trust that God will always and ultimately deliver us from every evil.

Fr. Anthony

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Aug 17, 2016 17 Sunday in Ordinary Time 24.07.2016 Listen Download