Sermon for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“If you then who are evil know how to give your children what is good – how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him”. 

We ask ourselves – what is the most important activity for us as Christians?  My answer would be it is to be a people of prayer – to love to pray – literally to waste time in prayer.  Our prayer although super natural because it is a listening and talking to God, is also natural for it is a call for us as individuals created in the image and likeness of God and loved by God to be alone with God.  It is to waste time with Him, to listen to the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, is the way that we come to know who we truly are.  Unless we pray there will never be peace in our hearts and in the world and evil will continue to reign.  Today Christ tells us starkly that even though there is goodness in our hearts and we are capable of generosity, we are still evil and capable of evil.  That evil can only be called for what it is, defeated and exposed to the light and truth when we pray.  The destructive ways of our world/the vengeance of God (as we hear of in the First Reading)/nihilism and the emptiness of our lives can only be called for what they are, when we pray.  For what prayer is – is the welcoming and the calling down on us and the being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Ultimately when we pray we can come and do come to know Jesus.

All were outraged, appalled and disgusted by the recent terrorist attack in Nice.  We can only say that clearly it was a manifestation of evil.  But how to deal with it?

On the one hand we can ask questions of why society’s divided and people feel ostracised and we can set out to build up unity and concord in our society.  Or there could be a strong response, a demand for greater surveillance, a hunting out and a pursuing of those who are evil or capable of it as we may judge.  Or simply there can be resoluteness and acceptance and the realisation that we have to pick ourselves up and move on.

But in it all, there is still a fundamental issue that evil reigns for there is the destruction of the small and the vulnerable namely those who are most loved and cherished in the heart of God.

Jesus in a stark way today tells us that evil is part of the human condition but that we can only overcome that when we pray, learn to pray, love to pray for when we pray, we are transformed by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ.

For prayer is us opening our lives, our world and welcoming in Jesus Christ.  Prayer is what Jesus did, it is when He gives us Bread, forgives us our sins and protects us as we hear in the Gospel today.  Some might say that all this is difficult to do but easy to enunciate but to look at it another way, if we truly love God, then we will love to pray.