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Sunday:       17 th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Date:         July 24, 2016
Year:         C
The readings: [Gen. 18:20-32; Col. 2:12-14; Lk. 11:1-13]
The message:  Persevering in our living faith.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry
Total words:  1635

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** The readings follow the sermon.

My brother and sisters in Christ, today's spiritual message for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is that we should "persevere in our living faith." [Col. 2:6]

What does it mean to "persevere?" To "persevere" means to be persistent, to continue without stopping. It means to start something and to finish it to the end. In what should we be persistent? We should be persistent in our "living faith." And what does our living faith include? It includes:

1) Our worship of God;
2) Our struggle to inherit the salvation that we have received through Jesus Christ who is Lord and God;
3) Our concern for the salvation of our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ.

Therefore, to persevere in our living faith means to worship God, to continuously struggle to inherit the salvation that we have received through Jesus Christ and to continuously be concerned for the salvation of our brothers and sisters in Christ until our last breath. Such is persevering in our living faith.

Reviewing today's First Reading from the Book of Genesis, it can be said that Moses had a living faith in Yahweh, God Almighty. The reputation of Moses has come down in history as one who continuously feared the Lord Yahweh and who worshipped Him in servitude and obedience in all things. Because Abraham believed in God, it was reckoned to him as righteousness. [Rom. 4:3, 9; Gal. 3:6]

Over and above Moses' faithfulness to God, he was concerned for those who lived in his environment. As we heard earlier, the Lord God had come down from Heaven to go and visit the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the outcries against them that were reaching the Heavenly Throne. During this visit, Abraham was concerned that God would destroy Sodom if fifty righteous souls were not found within the city. On behalf of a lesser number of righteous soul, even ten, Abraham obtained God's unconditional promise that He would not destroy the city. Unfortunately, as history tells us, ten righteous persons could not be found and the city was destroyed by God.

Today's Second Reading from the Letter to the Colossians reminds us of the need to persevere in our living faith in Christ. It reminds us to live our lives in Jesus, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as we were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. In other words, is anything else necessary? No! Is there a need for us to listen to false teachers? No! Starting with the basic truths that most of us have learned during our childhood, we must build up our faith in the sound Catholic teachings that the Apostles of Jesus have handed down to the Holy Church.

There is no benefit in listening to false teachers on television. There is no benefit in listening to those who sell recordings of their personal interpretation of the gospel or those who publish magazines to entice the innocent sheep. We do not need any of that. In Jesus, we have everything. "For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwelled bodily." [Col. 2:9] In Jesus dwelled the fullness of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus, we come to know each and every Divine Person of the Holy Trinity.

Through our Lord Jesus is found the mystery of the fullness of salvation. When we were buried with Christ in baptism, we were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. When we were dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Him, when God forgave us all our trespasses.

Do we need another Advocate? No! Do we need another Mediator? No! Through the Holy Catholic Church, we have the fullness of the Truth that has been given to us through the Spirit of Christ. With the fullness of the grace of God at our disposal, dare we insult the Lord God by seeking elsewhere, by entertaining the false teachers who's venin can poison our souls? To do so is to reject the grace of God that is our only hope of salvation. Let this be a warning! It is improper to play games with God! It is extremely dangerous to play games with our salvation! We might find ourselves on the losing side.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, those who persevere in their living faith, they abound in thanksgiving. They perceive the richness of God's mysteries, these being treasures upon treasures that are bestowed towards the children of God. From early morning until the late evening, their hearts elevate thanksgivings towards the Lord God for all His blessings. Let us adopt such a thanksgiving heart in recognition of all the goodness that the Lord God has bestowed upon us.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Luke reminds us of the necessity to persevere in our prayer life. Our prayer life is a reflection of our true faith in God. If we truly have come to know Jesus in faith, then this spiritual encounter has created a growing bond between Jesus and us as individuals. Continuously drawn to Jesus, we enjoy a daily personal relationship in the fullness of the Blessed Trinity, the Father and the Holy Spirit being revealed to us through Jesus Christ.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, our Lord taught them the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father. This rich prayer begins by praising the Almighty Father, this being followed by our consent to His Divine Will regarding the Heavenly Kingdom. Then we heard, "Give us each day our daily bread." These words are a request to God for the daily reception of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Most of us are blessed because we have access to the Living Bread, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist on a daily basis. We forget that there are some in other countries, even in the isolated section of our country who do not have access to the daily bread because of the shortage of priests in those small communities.

The Lord's Prayer continues with the words "And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us." Why is there emphasis on forgiveness? It is because forgiveness is the greatest obstacle to our sanctification. Through the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit, we become holy as the Lord Jesus is Holy. While many say that they would like to forgive everyone for the hurt that has been inflicted upon them, deep in their hearts, they are unable to do so. My brothers and sisters in Christ, unless we are able to forgive others, we do not qualify for the gift of salvation, God's forgiveness of our sins. For by the same measure that we forgive and judge others, we also shall be forgiven and judged. It is imperative that we forgive others.

The Our Father ends with the words, "And do not bring us to the time of trial." The time of trial is a reference to the final onslaught of the demon that is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 10; 3:1-5; 5:6.

To emphasize the importance of persevering in prayer, Jesus gave the story of a friend who arrived at midnight and the necessity to go next door to one's neighbour to borrow three loaves of bread. Under normal circumstances, it is expected that the neighbour will complain because of the hour during which the request is made. It must be realized that in those days, to open the door meant to remove a very large wooden or iron bar from the door that was shut. To do so was tiresome and noisy. Furthermore, the entire family slept on a mat in the peasant house that was single-roomed. To open the door meant to disturb the entire family from its sleep.

Why did Jesus conclude by saying that "because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs?" It is because no one in the neighbour's family will be able to sleep in peace unless the loaves of bread are provided.

Jesus concluded His teaching by saying that if you ask, it will be given to you; if you search, you will find; and if you knock, the door will be opened to you. It should be noted here that the reference to asking, searching and knocking is a reference to requesting the Holy Spirit. For it says, "How much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him." The asking, searching and knocking is in reference to Divine knowledge, understanding and wisdom. It is a reference to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is a reference to the fruit of the Holy Spirit. All of these are needed for the sanctification of the soul during its perseverance in the living faith.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this week, let us reflect upon what the Heavenly Father has bestowed upon each and every one of us through the Holy Spirit so we may perceive where we are at in our sanctification. Have all received Divine knowledge, understanding and wisdom? If not, let us ask the Heavenly Father for them. Have we all received from the gifts of the Holy Spirit? If not, let us ask for some of them. Have we all received the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Again, if not, let us ask for them.

While there is no assurance that you will suddenly receive what you ask, by persevering in your request, soon or later, the grace of the Heavenly Father shall shine upon you and you shall receive what you ask. Such is persevering in the living faith! May the grace of God be with you this week.

The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

First Reading...

The Lord said 'How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.'

So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham came near and said, 'Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?' And the Lord said, 'If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.'

Abraham answered, 'Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five? And the Lord said, 'I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.'

Again Abraham spoke to the Lord, 'Suppose forty are found there.' He answered, 'For the sake of forty I will not destroy it.'

Then Abraham said, 'Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Supposed thirty are found there.' The Lord answered, 'I will not do it, if I find thirty there.'

Abraham said, 'Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Supposed twenty are found there.' The Lord answered, 'For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.'

Then Abraham said, 'Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.' The Lord answered, 'For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.'" [Gen. 18:20-32]

Second Reading...

"Brothers and sisters, When you were buried with Christ in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the Cross." [Col. 2:12-14]

Gospel Reading...

"Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'

He said to them, 'When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.''

And Jesus said to the disciples, 'Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And your friend answered from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.'

'I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.'

'So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the doors will be opened.'

'Is there any father among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'" [Lk. 11:1-13]

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