Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year C

Joseph S. Mostardi, O.S.A.
Blessed Stephen Bellesini Friary
Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Gn 18: 20-32
Ps 138{ 1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8
Col 2: 12-14
Lk 11: 1-13

As time quickly passes, we find things that were once important fading into the recesses of our consciousness and our to-do list. Take for example the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis announcing the Year of Mercy. As a reminder to us all, Pope Francis mentioned: “At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives.” The Pope has remarked over and over again how critical mercy is to the life of the Church. Each of us exists as an act of God’s mercy and unconditional love. In both our First Reading and Gospel, we see God’s mercy at work with his people. The petitions of Abraham to God were a cry for mercy as he hoped to save some of God’s faithful people from the Lord’s justified wrath. Christ teaching his disciples how to pray was a reminder to us that this Year of Mercy is not over. God is constantly providing us with daily opportunities to petition the creator to extend his mercy upon us as we cope with tragedy, fear, and violence, as well as the normal events of everyday life.

Jesus invites his disciples into prayer by not just teaching them the words of the Lord’s Prayer but teaching them the importance of prayer especially when we need God’s mercy. St. Augustine reminds us that prayer is our human way of reaching out to God even though God already knows what it is we need. The words of the Lord’s Prayer invite us to surrender to God by seeking his will as we request his mercy. The Lord’s Prayer is our humble attempt to knock without knowing what will be opened to us, to seek without always understanding what it is we need. Further, it is asking God to enter the chaos of our lives both individually and collectively allowing his mercy to shower down on us through the Eucharist we celebrate and the abiding presence of his Spirit, the same Spirit that brought order to the chaos of creation.

God’s mercy is abundant and always available to us when we ask, remembering it is God’s gift to us that was the primary reason for redemption. Christ entered the chaos of our lives so that we would learn through prayer to be merciful to others as we enter the chaos of their lives, providing hope for the hopeless and trust for those despairing.

Our broken world is screaming for peace while searching for justice. However peace and justice comes at a cost and that is surrendering ourselves to the will of God as Abraham did, in order to seek mercy on those who did not deserve to die, while trusting in his relationship with God as a loving Father.

As the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis’s words in both proclamation for a Year of Mercy and his more recent letter on the Joy of Love, provide a clear path for us to become merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful, learning to love one another as global partners rather than enemies. I once heard it said that when the power of love overcomes love of power then we as the human race will not only understand what mercy is but practice it as a way of life. Nourished by the daily bread given to us in the Eucharist, we go forth as those who have been sent to bring mercy to others.

Today’s readings offer us a glimpse into how our Father is merciful, demonstrating his mercy in intimate and personal ways. Let us not becomes victims of forgetfulness by putting aside the opportunity during this Year of Mercy to practice what has always been one of the Beatitudes –Blessed are the merciful for mercy shall be theirs. We need mercy just as much as we need to practice it in our lives.