Let’s look at some of the main themes in the readings for the 17th Sunday of the Year.
1st Reading – Genesis 18:20-32
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are filled with grave sin, causing God to consider their destruction.
Abraham “bargains” with God, securing the Lord’s promise that if only 10 innocent people are still living in the city of Sodom it will not be destroyed.
Psalm – 138:1-3,6-8
“Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.”
God’s mercy protects the humble who seek God in prayer and daily practice.
2nd Reading – Colossians 2:12-14
Through baptism Christians die and rise with Jesus.
It is the Cross of Christ that frees us from our sins.
Gospel – Luke 11:1-13
Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer to the disciples (slightly shorter than the one found in Matthew 6:9-13.)
The Lord’s Prayer is followed by a reflection on petitionary prayer, where the disciple asks and receives good things from God. (Note, this is different from the Gospel of Matthew which follows up with a reflection on forgiveness.)
A few years ago I was having lunch when I ran into Fr. Bob Koszarek, a retired priest from our diocese. When I asked him what brought him out for lunch he said, “I am celebrating the anniversary of my baptism.” The comment struck me, especially when he followed it up with, “Do you know the day of your baptism?”
The answer is no. Yet as I prepare for Mass this week I have made a commitment to find out. We claim (rightly so) that baptism is a crucial sacrament in the Church – the gateway to all other sacraments whereby we are configured to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most people know if they have been baptized; my sense is that very few know the actual date.
Our faith is a precious gift – worth fighting for, worth dying for. Perhaps today we pause to recall just how precious it truly is…Jesus Christ poured out his blood on the Cross for us that we might have eternal life. His baptism was the revelation of the Trinity, where we hear the Father’s voice from heaven as the Spirit descends upon the Son in the form of a dove. Our baptism allows us to participate fully in God’s presence for the grace and guidance we need.
I invite us today to claim our baptism. Some simple steps:
Thank the Lord for the gift of faith to know Jesus and live as a Christian disciple
Embrace your faith through study and prayer
Serve others in the name of Jesus Christ (and with his help and strength)
Allow your life to bring Good News to the World
Our baptism is not a one time event. Rather, it is an ongoing expression of Christ working through us. May the Baptism of the Lord inspire us to live our faith with joy as we engage our lives with his power.
Jesus speaks with Nicodemus about the Holy Spirit. We have received this Spirit in our hearts at Baptism, and the Lord gives us the strength and wisdom to make our way through this life to Heaven. Our task: to let the Spirit work in our lives!
Philip took time to instruct the Ethiopian eunuch about the book of the prophet Isaiah, which led to his conversion and baptism. Every day we have opportunities to share our faith and help guide others so that they can grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.