HOMILY FOR THE 17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 24 2022
A certain village priest was a holy man, so each time the people were in trouble they had recourse to him. He would then withdraw to a special place in the forest and say a special prayer. God would always hear his prayer and the village would be helped.
When he died and the people were in trouble they had recourse to his successor who was not a holy man but knew the secret of the special place in the forest and the special prayer. So he said. “Lord, you know I am not a holy man. But surely you are not going to hold that against my people? So listen to my prayer and come to our assistance.” And God would hear his prayer and the village would be helped.
When he too died and the people were in trouble they had recourse to his successor who knew the special prayer but not the place in the forest. So he said. “What do you care for places, Lord? Is not every place made holy by your presence? So listen to my prayer and come to our assistance.” And once again God would hear his prayer and the village would be helped.
Now he too died and when the people were in trouble they had recourse to his successor who did not know the special prayer or the special place in the forest. So he said. “It isn’t the formula that you value. Lord, but the cry of the heart in distress. So listen to my prayer and come to our assistance.” And once again God would hear his prayer and the village would be helped.
The central theme of the Word of God on this 17th Sunday is: prayer. The connection between the first reading and the gospel is ‘being fearless in asking God for something’ – being resolute, persevering till the end.
The gospel reading has two sections:
First, Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray, that is, what should be the content of their prayer. Second, what their attitude should be in prayer. St Paul teaches us to pray relentlessly; in and out of season (cf. 2 Timothy 4:2). When we storm heaven with our relentless prayer, even the Saints (the children of God) would intercede on our behalf.
So we should ask ourselves; what do we pray for?
It is one thing to have the perseverance, but it is another thing to pray for the right thing.
“Give us this day, our daily bread.” (Luke 11:3) What do we request of the Lord? In the illustration Jesus gave about the man who visited his friend to beg for bread, Jesus uses bread to mean ‘something needful’ and in “the Lord’s prayer” asking God for our daily bread reminds us of our daily and total dependence on God for our sustenance.
But are we totally dependent on God?
Many of us are doing ‘Try your luck’ with God – jumping from place to place, from one Church to another, from one revival to another vigil, to another crusade, in different Churches. This kind of attitude shows we don’t even rely on God, rather it shows we are looking for something other than God. This simply shows we don’t even see God as “Our Father.”
But God always answers our prayers.
When we persistently pray for a particular thing and we don’t get it, what do we think? We feel God has not answered our prayer. That is not true. God always answers our prayers, but we need to see from God’s perspective to be able to understand how he has answered us.
One thing we need daily is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit assists us in discerning the will of the Father for us. “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:13). If we pray according to the will of God, then we too, like the Psalmist can say “On the day I called, you answered me O Lord!”
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*