Abraham was sure brave in pleading with God to save the inhabitants of Sodom in the first reading for mass today. This city was filled with such wickedness and sin that God wanted to destroy the entire city. But, Abraham bargained with God. He bargained with the creator of the universe and begged Him for their lives. We know that this was in a large part because Adam’s nephew Lot and his wife were living in this city, but still, Abraham fought for their lives and any other righteous people who lived in that city. Abraham said “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.” Maybe God listened to Abraham because of his humility and because he was a righteous man who didn’t have anything personally to gain from his request, except maybe the life of his nephew and his family. This too, was a righteous act, to fight for the ones that he loved. Abraham kept asking and asking, until God finally said that for the sake of ten righteous people, he would not destroy the city.
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah has a bad reputation for being destroyed because of homosexuality, but that isn’t true. There were all kinds of sexual sins being committed in that city and the people’s morals had degenerated to the basest of human impulses and pleasures.
The second reading today talks about how the disciples of that time were dead in their trespasses and the uncircumcision of their flesh. Many young adults are like that today as well. There are also many faithful Catholics who were like this at some earlier point in their lives too. Sexual pleasures without the benefit of marriage are temporary and empty and is fools gold in the long run. Genuine and lasting love is only found in a committed relationship between two people in the sacrament of matrimony, but people sometimes do not fully understand this until later in life though. However, the second reading today says that Jesus forgave all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with it’s legal demands. Christ set this aside, nailing it to the cross. And, how much more beautiful could it be than this? He nailed these sins to the cross and they are no more.
A reflection on the Lord’s prayer that is found in the gospel today is going to be printed separately from today’s reflection, so let us move on the the last half of the gospel reading for mass today.
The last half of the gospel reading today is a great deal like the first reading when Abraham kept going back and asking God to have mercy on the city of Sodom for the sake of less and less people. Abraham kept asking until God granted his request. This is exactly what Jesus is telling us in the gospel today too. To keep asking God to grant our requests and don’t give up asking Him. God will surely relent after a while, in much the same way he did with Abraham today. Jesus used two separate examples of how to keep bugging God in prayer because God will hear our prayers and will answer them. (However, it might not always be in the way we have requested Him to answer them. Our own personal needs or wishes are not the only ones to be considered.) God always hears the requests we ask of Him in prayer though, especially when it is for other people.
The last half of the gospel reading today seems to indicate what we should really be seeking in prayer though. A closer relationship with God, a deeper connection with Him. Jesus said “how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Notice that Jesus did not say that God will answer all our prayers. He said that He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. Prayer actually changes us. No one is perfect all the time. We all have bad days or are more irritable than usual. Sometimes we can even have spells of negativity in our lives or feel an absence of God’s presence, a sense of emptiness or hopelessness that we just can’t seem to shake. It might seem like our prayers are fruitless. Nothing has changed, why keep trying? Well, we do need to keep trying, but maybe change how we pray. The prayers God hears the most are those spoken from the heart. Giving Him our heart in prayer, opens our heart itself. It opens the door to our heart. The more our hearts open to the Lord, the more the Holy Spirit can enter in. Prayer and a relationship with the Lord is a two way street. God and Jesus do not just want us to come to them, they want to come to us personally and fill our lives with joy.