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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

Reflecting on Lk. 11: 1-13

That bargaining that Abraham engages in with God is literature’s great example of how not to pray. Through praising and groveling—the accepted posture of servants asking something of their king—Abraham finally gets this rigid warlord to agree to cease and desist from destroying Sodom and Gomorrah if ten good men can be found in the city.

Jesus has a different view of prayer. Ask, he says. Seek, he says. Knock, he says. Jesus, in his great intimacy with the Father, knows that God wants to give us what we need. Notice that Jesus, in the Garden, begged God that the cup be taken from him. But he did not grovel, nor flatter, nor try to bargain for his life. He knew that God would give what was in God’s will to give.

We don’t realize it, probably, but when we pray we are asking that the Holy Spirit be given to us. Read St. Paul: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26).

As Tanya Marlow wrote in Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt, and Delay, “The first job of the Holy Spirit is to groan with us. Our tears are sacred prayers. This is where God is, echoing our desperation for the world to be made whole.”

Ah. So this is why Jesus promises that God will always give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. We can’t seek, or knock, or ask, if the Holy Spirit isn’t groaning with us. Come, Holy Spirit. Groan. And take our sacred tears to heaven.

In what ways do you feel the Holy Spirit interceding with groanings as you pray?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Ordinary Time - Cycle C

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