Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, October 6, 2016 — “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 464


Reading 1 GAL 3:1-5

O stupid Galatians!
Who has bewitched you,
before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
I want to learn only this from you:
did you receive the Spirit from works of the law,
or from faith in what you heard?
Are you so stupid?
After beginning with the Spirit,
are you now ending with the flesh?
Did you experience so many things in vain?–
if indeed it was in vain.
Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to you
and works mighty deeds among you
do so from works of the law
or from faith in what you heard?

Responsorial Psalm LK 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75

R. (68) Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; He has come to his people.

Alleluia SEE ACTS 16:14B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 11:5-13

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him?”

Homily For Luke 11:5-13 — “How Should We Approach God?”

All of us who are Christians have struggled with the problem of unanswered prayer. In fact, that problem can discourage us so much that we start thinking, “What’s the use?” and we even quit praying. We hear stories of how God answered prayer for others, but for us it just doesn’t seem to work. Sometimes we may try again, but we’re like boys who ring the doorbell and run away. We don’t stick around long enough to find out if God is home and if He is going to open the door and answer our request.

Jesus is responding to the request of an unnamed disciple, “Lord, teach us to pray” (11:1). In 11:2-4, He gives us the pattern for prayer, that we are to pray to the Father about His concerns and we are to pray about the family’s needs. In 11:5-13, Jesus continues His instruction by showing us how we should approach God in prayer.

If you live in a country with a sovereign monarch, you don’t just pop in on the king and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” If you have an interview with the king, you need some coaching on what to say and do and what not to say and do. You need to know what social courtesies are expected in the presence of the king.

When you come before the King of kings, you need some coaching about how to do it. Some may think that because God is sovereign and holy, perhaps we shouldn’t bother Him with our petty needs. Or, perhaps we should come apologetically and timidly, afraid to let Him know what is really on our minds. Maybe once we’ve let our needs be known, we should back off and not bother God again. Jesus shows us here how to approach God to receive the things we need as we seek to do His will:

Approach God with bold persistence, knowing that as a loving Father, He will provide for our spiritual good.

The instruction of 11:5-13 assumes the foundational instruction of 11:2-4. We must be children of God through the new birth before we can address God as Father and approach Him with our needs. We must be committed to seeking first His kingdom and glory, so that our prayers are properly motivated and directed. Our prayers for our needs are not just for the purpose of making us happy, but for the overall aim of seeing the Father’s name hallowed and His kingdom brought about on the earth.

In this context, Jesus tells a humorous parable (11:5-8) to teach that we should approach God with boldness as His friend, persisting until we obtain what we need in order to minister to our friends. Then (11:9-10) He applies the parable by telling us to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking in prayer until we obtain the answer we need. Next (11:11-12) Jesus shifts the picture with a ludicrous, but memorable, illustration of a boy asking his father for a fish or an egg. The father would not give his son a snake or a scorpion! Then (11:13) Jesus applies this illustration by saying that if we, being evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more shall the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.

The strong emphasis in this whole section is on receiving answers to our prayers. The friend at midnight did not go away empty-handed. He got the bread that he came for. The application emphasizes that one who keeps asking, seeking, and knocking will receive what he is after. The story of the father and his son makes the same point: the boy will get what he asks from his father. The final application drives it home again with force: How much more will the heavenly Father respond favorably to those who ask Him? John Calvin observes, “Nothing is better adapted to excite us to prayer than a full conviction that we shall be heard” (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], Harmony of the Evangelists, 1:351). Our Lord wants us to come to the Father and keep on coming until He gives us what we need to see His kingdom come.

Read more:


Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
06 OCTOBER 2016, Thursday, 27th Week of Ordinary Time

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  GAL 3:1-5; LUKE 1:69-75; LUKE 11:5-13  ]Do you find your Christian Faith burdensome?  Are you happy to be a Christian?  Is your faith enriching you and helping you to live a life of freedom, joy and love?  Deep in your heart, would you prefer to be a Christian or to give up your faith?  If you find your Christian faith a chore and one that is restrictive and an obstacle to happiness in your life, you have believed in the wrong Gospel!   Like the Galatians, we have gone mad!  This is not what faith in Christ is supposed to do for us.  Christ comes to give us life, and life abundantly.

So what is the crux of the matter?  We have not accepted the gospel in truth, for even though we are baptized in Christ, we are still slaves to the laws.  For many of us, our relationship with Christ is reduced to fulfilling rituals, obligations and obeying the laws out of fear more than out of love.  At most, we perform them out of duty, not because we want to but because we have to.  This was the case of the Christians in Galatia.  Instead of believing in the Good News, they went back to the observance of the laws, thinking that by observing them they can find salvation and freedom. But this is not the Good News that St Paul comes to share with us.

The Good News is about the love of God in Christ who died and rose for us. The Good News is about God’s unconditional forgiveness and our reconciliation with Him though the sacrament of baptism.  The Good News is that by confessing in faith, Jesus is our Saviour and Lord, and we become adopted children of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God lives in us as the Father lives in Christ.  Through the same Spirit, we will then be able to do what Jesus did when He was on earth and be empowered and motivated by the same passion for His Father and His people.

Within this context, we can understand why St Paul was scandalized by the behavior of the Christians in Galatia.  We must understand the context in which St Paul was writing.  Firstly, in the early Church, the works of the Holy Spirit were rather pronounced and visible.  We read in the Acts of the Apostles how the apostles performed many miracles of healing and signs of wonder in the name of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit was therefore tangibly felt and experienced and seen in its effects in the lives of those who submitted themselves in faith to the power of the Holy Spirit.  Because it was a conscious experience, the early Christians could feel the presence of the Risen Lord at work in their lives.   Secondly, we read in the Acts of the Apostles that some of the Galatians were there at the first Pentecost when the apostles spoke in tongues.  They would have seen the wonders and the power of the Holy Spirit at work, especially when they heard St Peter speaking to them in their own language even though he was speaking Aramaic.

Consequently, St Paul could not believe his ears when he heard that the Galatians had been influenced by some Jewish converts to go back to the observance of the Old Testament laws.  Hence, the word he used was “spell” a pun he used to describe such a retrogression in their faith.  “Has someone put a spell on you, in spite of the plain explanation you have had of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Let me ask you one question: was it because you practised the Law that you received the Spirit, or because you believed what was preached to you? Are you foolish enough to end in outward observances what you began in the Spirit? Have all the favours you received been wasted? And if this were so, they would most certainly have been wasted.”  Salvation for us, Christians, is called the Good News simply because salvation is no longer through the works of the law but faith in Christ’s love and mercy, in Him who is our savior and redeemer.

For this reason, if many of our Catholics find our faith burdensome and are living a nominal faith, it is simply because they have no conscious experience of the Holy Spirit in our hearts or at work in their lives.Unfortunately for them, their faith is reducible to a set of doctrines which they do not agree with but are forced to believe in.  There is no real conviction in the heart.  They have no real encounter with the Risen Lord.  Christ is far away and cannot be felt or experienced.  Often, I hear that their loved ones, boyfriend or girlfriend, are closer and more real to them.  That is why they can spend hours being with their loved ones but with the Lord it is just a few obligatory minutes, if at all.

What we need today is to pray for a renewal of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  But many of us fight shy of the charismatic renewal.  We have many reservations, mostly because of cultural inhibitions and often egotism of feeling vulnerable and letting go.   For those of us who like to rationalize our faith, all we have is an ideology, not a personal relationship with the Lord.  Of course, the Charismatic renewal is not the only way although so far the most tangible way of encountering the Risen Lord.  What matters ultimately is our faith in the Holy Spirit and a conscious desire to welcome Him into our lives.  Indeed, Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  All we need is to believe and ask from the Father.

The Father wants to give us nothing other than what is His, namely, the Holy Spirit.  God is not simply interested to give us things or even gifts, but He wants to give us all a share in His Spirit, just as He lives in the Son in the same Spirit.  God wants us to share in the gifts of Christ by making us His adopted sons. But we are short-sighted.  We come to the Father only to ask for material things and the things of the world.  It is not wrong but we should seek first the Kingdom of God and the Holy Spirit, and all the other things will find their place.  Otherwise, when we focus on mundane needs, our preoccupation with the passing things of this earth will cause us to lose focus on the more important needs of life.

This is what Jesus meant when He spoke of the danger of shortsightedness in asking for the truly important things.  Some parents are shortsighted in loving their children.  Jesus said, “What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg?”  Sometimes, we are responsible for misleading our children.   We only underscore and tell them that they must do well in their studies, find a great career that pays well, so that they can buy a beautiful house, a big car and go for holidays and enjoy all the luxuries of this world.  We are not giving them what truly makes them happy.  What makes us happy is when we are loving in our relationships and most of all, with God.  What gives us life is when we use our life for the service of others, especially those who are suffering the most.  So too, the Father wants to give us all that we need, but what we need most is His Spirit so that with the resources we have, we will use them for the service of the kingdom and not for ourselves.  If God blesses us with resources and gifts and we use them for ourselves and our selfish needs, we cannot find happiness and joy in life.

So today, we are called to renew the Holy Spirit in us.  The Holy Spirit is given to us not through the laws but through faith in Christ’s mercy and love.  St Paul makes it clear, “Does God give you the Spirit so freely and work miracles among you because you practise Law, or because you believed what was preached to you?”  So the Father is waiting for us to ask, search and knock, not because He is like the man who was sleeping in the gospel and did not want to be disturbed.  Rather, it is because He wants us to be sure that we desire the Holy Spirit.  Only through fervent prayer can we purify our intentions and motives in asking for what is truly good for us.  So for those who lack an experience of the Holy Spirit, we need to persevere and be persistent like the traveler and pray fervently so that the Lord will send us His Holy Spirit anew.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh


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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, October 6, 2016 — “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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