Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us heard the words of the Lord calling on us to come to Him and to put our faith and trust in Him, because He as our loving God and Father will always listen to us and show His love for us, at every opportunities. Today’s Scripture readings remind us of just how beloved we are by God and how precious we are all to Him, that He has always been willing to communicate with us and to accommodate us, as we heard from those Scripture passages. Hence, as we spend the time to reflect on those passages let us constantly remind ourselves of God’s ever present love for each one of us.
In our first reading today, we heard of the story of the encounter between God and Abraham in the Book of Genesis during the time when God visited Abraham in human disguise to announce to him the coming of his long-awaited promised son, Isaac, of which God told Abraham that Isaac would be born within the year. At that time, the Lord also spent time with Abraham to discuss regarding Sodom and Gomorrah, and told him of what He planned to do with the cities and their people who had committed grievous sins and wickedness against God. God would destroy and erase the memory of Sodom and Gomorrah as a punishment for their sins.
Abraham was immediately reminded of his nephew Lot, who had parted ways with him earlier on and was dwelling in Sodom with his family. Therefore, Abraham tried to ask the Lord for clemency and patience, and begged Him to reconsider on behalf of any of the righteous who could have been there in Sodom and Gomorrah, which would have included Lot and his family as well. Hence, we heard how Abraham negotiated with God, and continued to ask Him if God would destroy the cities should there be some of the faithful there in those cities, in cumulatively decreasing number of five.
God listened to Abraham and reassured him that if He could find the number of the faithful that he mentioned, He would reconsider and not bring harm to the two cities and the people in them. Unfortunately, based on what happened, Lot and his family alone were considered righteous among all the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, and there was not even ten people who could be considered righteous, and hence God did not spare the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. But God did send His Angels to help Lot and his family to get out of Sodom to safety, and He brought them all out safely, save for Lot’s wife who hesitated, looked back against God’s warnings and was turned into a salt pillar.
Nonetheless, Abraham tried and asked the Lord, and the Lord heard him. The Lord rescued Lot and his family from harm, and He also provided for them afterwards, just as He has also provided for Abraham, giving him the promised son, the inheritance and more blessings. The Lord has always ever been faithful, to the Covenant which He had made with us, His people, all that He had done for our sake, in all the promises He made and then fulfilled to us, among others that He had done, again and again throughout time and history. All these are because God truly loves each and every one of us.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard the words of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples regarding the matter of prayer, how to pray to God and also on the matter of asking God, for help and attention. In that passage, we heard the Lord teaching the disciples how to pray, with the prayer that He Himself had composed, directed to God, Who is our Heavenly Father, the prayer we now know well as the Lord’s Prayer or the Pater Noster. The Lord’s Prayer is a model and exemplary prayer which embodies all of what a prayer is all about, as it combines thanksgiving, supplication and petition, praising and glorification, as well as seeking for forgiveness and mercy from God.
How this is significant is that, because God is our Father and like any fathers, as the Lord Himself mentioned, He would not purposely let us down, reject us or harm us. He loves each and every one of us because we are all like His children, and as both our Father and Shepherd, He listens to all of us just like how He listened to the petitions and prayers of Abraham, as well as those of many of our other predecessors. He did not turn His ears or heart away from us when we ask, plead or beg Him. Instead, He listens to us patiently, even when we make a lot of often outrageous demands and wishes on Him, or when we expected Him to do something for us, or to fulfil our desires among other things.
However, many of us often do not even seek the Lord in the first place when we are in need of help. We instead turn to other sources of comfort and possible solutions, turning to money, worldly means and others, to the idols of our world instead of entrusting ourselves in the Lord’s care and love. That was precisely how and why so many of our predecessors had fallen into the wrong paths, as they did not have strong faith and relationship with God. They were easily shaken and tempted to abandon the Lord for the other worldly refuge that brought us further and deeper into troubles in various ways.
Too many of us are also easily disappointed whenever we feel that the Lord is not listening to us or that He does not fulfil our wishes and wants, our demands and desires. But this is exactly where we must realise and remember that God as our Lord and Master, and our Father and Creator, has no obligation whatsoever to fulfil our needs and wants. But God knows us well, and He knows what we truly needs, and everything will happen according to His will, rather than our will and desire. We must not forget that we cannot and should not impose our will and desire on the Lord, as that is not how prayer and our relationship with God work. That is why, the Lord in His prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, has these words, ‘Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven’.
And those of us who do not dare to ask the Lord, we did not realise that often we just have to speak to Him and ask Him. God knows what we want and what we need, but at the same time, He also wants to engage us in a conversation much as how we also want to engage in active conversation with our family and friends. It is by building up that genuine and strong, living relationship with God that we may come to know more of our path in life and what we need to do for us to achieve a more wholesome and faithful life as the disciples and servants of our Lord. We have to knock on the Lord’s door, and call on Him, ask for His help and kindness.
To do this, we often require the humility to do so. Often times, our pride and ego may come between us and God, as we become reluctant to lower ourselves and humble ourselves so that we may be the listener in our communication and relationship with God. That is why, for us to develop a truly genuine and vibrant relationship with God, we will need to be open-minded, humble and be willing to listen to God speaking to us. He has always been patient like that of a father patiently guiding his children, sometimes disciplining and punishing at times, rewarding at others, but with the intention for our own good and true happiness. But we as children, we often acted naughtily by being stubborn and not listening to our Father’s words.
That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called to be grateful to God and to open ourselves to Him, with us having received so much favour and blessings from God, our loving Father Himself, so much so that as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Colossians in our second reading today, that He has given us the ultimate gift of love through Jesus Christ, His Son, by which He has provided us with the sure path to return and to be reconciled with Him. That is because through Christ, all of us have been made sharers in the new Covenant that He established with us, by His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross.
God has given us so wonderful a gift, even before we asked Him, and without us even asking for it. Through Him and all that He had done, He opened for us the path to eternal life and everlasting joy. God has not spared for us even His most beloved and only Son, so that through Him, we may receive the sure guarantee of salvation. Therefore, all of us are reminded and called to turn our hearts and minds fully towards the Lord, entrusting ourselves to Him. Let us all not harden our hearts anymore, but open them to allow God to come knocking at us and enter into our lives, just as we come to Him, knocking on His doors seeking for His grace, love, compassion and mercy.
May the Lord, our most loving God and Father be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our lives and journeys of faith, and may He continue to encourage us and strengthen us that we may persevere through even the worst of challenges and trials in life. May God bless us always, in all of our deeds and efforts, in all of our good endeavours, for His greater glory.