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Thursday, 21 July 2022 07:35

Celebrating At Home - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The hospitality of God
(Luke 11:1-13)

Many people struggle with a name for God. For some, ‘Father’ is fine. For others, the image of God as Father evokes traumatic memories of their childhood experience of pain, suffering, neglect and even abuse.

Alternatively, some prefer terms like, ‘Creator’, ‘Redeemer’, and ‘Sanctifier’. But these terms describe functions, not persons, and they seem to lack the warmth and intimacy that we intuitively feel marks our relationship with God.

In today’s Gospel, one of the disciples, having seen Jesus at prayer, asks him to teach them. The prayer that Jesus teaches them is probably very close what he, himself, prayed.

The prayer has none of the formality of those used in Temple and Synagogue worship. Instead, it begins with a more informal, warm and intimate addressing of God as ‘Abba’ - not as formal as ‘Father’ and not as childish as ‘Daddy’, but somewhere in between.

However we choose to name God, the term we use needs to have the same sense as ‘Abba’ had for Jesus. The disciples also live in the same warm and intimate relationship which God and Jesus share. And it is out of this relationship as members of God’s household that Jesus teaches them to pray.

The focus of the prayer is initially on God alone (‘may your name be held holy’), then moves to what the world needs (‘your kingdom come’), then to what the disciples need (sustenance, forgiveness and rescue from trial, persecution and temptation).
A community which prays this prayer recognises its privileged closeness to God. But it also recognises that the hospitality of God calls the whole human race into this same closeness experienced as the coming of the Kingdom.

The shamelessly persistent knocking on a friend’s door is an encouragement not to be afraid to continually ask God for what we need to live as members of the kingdom. God will not fail to share God’s life and love through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

If human beings, as flawed as we are, know how to give good things to our children, then how much more will the loving and gracious God give the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who ask? The Holy Spirit who is the bond of love between God, Jesus and us - the Holy Spirit who helps us sense and experience that we are deeply enfolded in God’s love, care and concern.

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