17th Sunday Year C
Theme of the week: Be persistent in our prayers and seek forgiveness, for the Lord is ever merciful.
The First Reading tells a story where Abraham interceded for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Cleverly, Abraham bargained with Lord. Through his persistence, the Lord eventually agreed to spare the two cities in their entirety even if there were only ten righteous persons in the cities. This passage illustrates the vital role of an intercessor in our salvation. In times of needs, we often ask others to pray for us. Over the ages, our Church has recognised many holy men and women as Saints. These holy men and women led righteous lives while on earth and now share God’s glory in heaven. As holy men and women sharing God’s glory in heaven, how much more powerful are their prayers compared to those of our earthly brothers and sisters! Hence, in addition to our brothers and sisters on earth, we should also ask these holy men and women to pray for us. In Catholic beliefs, this strong bond between us the believers on earth and those who have departed, forms us into a community that transcends earthly existence. We call this community the Communion of Saints.
In agreeing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah on account of ten righteous persons, you may be wondering: how can this be justice? How is justice served when the Lord is prepared to ignore the sins of all the other evil doers? This mystery of forgiveness is unlocked with the revelation of Jesus Christ. As Paul said in the Second Reading, “He has overridden the Law” (verse 15, Jerusalem Bible). By His passion, death and resurrection, Jesus took our sins upon Himself, suffering and dying for our sins. As sinners, none of us can earn our own salvation. It is Christ who earns us our salvation. As the passage explained, when we are baptised into Jesus, we died with him (verse 12); and by His death, all our sins are forgiven (verse 14). .
The parable of the persistent friend in the Gospel urges us to be persistent in our prayers, just as Abraham was persistent in the First Reading. The key to the message is this: “Ask, and it will be given to 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 door will be opened” (verse 9-10). The keyword here is “ask”. Jesus has paid the price for our sins. To receive His free gift of forgiveness, all we need to do is ask. With a contrite heart, let us ask for forgiveness in the words our Lord gave us: “forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us” (verse 4). Shalom.