Prayer must not be a way to force God to do our will. Why are we invited to turn to him with insistence? What is the meaning of prayer? To these questions, Jesus responds today with a parable (vv. 1-5) and with application to the life of the community (vv. 6-8). The parable starts with the presentation of personages.
News in Homilies
A new light brightened only in the mind and heart of the Samaritan: he understood that Jesus was more than a healer. In his act of salvation, the leper captured the message of God. He, the heretic who did not believe in the prophets, had surprisingly intuited that God has sent him, whom the prophets announced: He opens the eyes of the blind, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead are raised to life and the lepers are made clean (Lk 7:22).
Increase our faith. The experience of an uncertain and vacillating faith happens everyday. We believe in Jesus, but we do not trust him totally. We don’t have the courage to accomplish certain passes, to untie ourselves from certain habits, to make certain renouncements. Here we have a faith that needs to strengthen itself.
Jesus considers both greeds of goods of this world and honestly earned wealth as almost insurmountable obstacles to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. The deceitfulness of wealth chokes the seed of the Word (Mt 13:22); it tends to gradually conquer the whole human heart and leave no space for God nor for the neighbor.
People are not owners but administrators of God’s goods. This is an often insistently repeated affirmation of the church’s fathers. We recall one, Basil. “Aren’t you a thief when you consider your own the riches of this world; riches are given to you only to administer?”
In Jesus, God has experienced failure several times. Jerusalem has not corresponded to his love: “How often have I tried to bring together your children as a bird gathers her young under her wings, but you refused” (Lk 13:34). In Nazareth he could not perform any miracle (Mk 6:5-6); the rich young man responds with a refusal (Mt 19:16-22).
The cross is the symbol of which Christians show their faith. Yet, for three centuries, they intentionally did not use the cross as a symbol of their faith. They were recognized in other symbols—the anchor, the fish, the loaves, the dove, the shepherd—but they were reluctant to depict the cross.
Until the end of the 3rd century, the Christian symbols were the anchor, the fisherman, the fish but never the cross. It will only be from the 4th century, with the famous discovery of the instrument of execution of Jesus by St. Helena, that the cross will become the symbol of victory, not on the enemies of Constantine at the Milvio Bridge but on death and all those that cause death. To choose the cross is to choose life.
The poor, even an enemy, must be loved because he is lovable, not out of compassion or assuming an attitude of haughty superiority (perhaps even only spiritual). Human eyes would never be able to see something lovable in these people if the word of the Lord does not purify the looks, does not cure our blindness. It is Jesus who makes us understand that if God loves every person, it means that in him there is always something wonderful.
The time of narrow nationalism is over; new, limitless horizons are wide open. The city must prepare to welcome all people who will come to her because all, not just Israel, are heirs of the blessings promised to Abraham. The image used by the prophet is delightful; it makes us almost visibly contemplate the whole humanity on the way to the hill on which Jerusalem is located. There the Lord has prepared “a feast of rich food and choice wines, fine wine strained” (Is 25:6).
“If the world hates you, remember that the world hated me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world because the world loves its own” (Jn 15:18-19). He calmed their perplexed and vacillating spirits recalling that a dramatic destiny puts together, for always, all the just ones. “Remember, that is how the ancestors of this people treated the prophets. Alas for you when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of these people treated the false prophets” (Lk 6:23,26).
The believers’ reflection on the fate of Mary after death continued to grow over the centuries. It led to the belief in her assumption and, on 1 November 1950, to the papal definition: “The Immaculate Conception Mother of God ever Virgin, finished the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
The goods offer a sense of security; they promise to satisfy every need and every desire, from which the psychological mechanism that leads to the accumulation and idolatry is triggered. Riches give an impression of being solid, unwavering, enduring: they survive those who have them. Actually, they deceive him, deprive him of everything, and leave him empty-handed.
In front of money and property, even the best of people, Christians too, often end up losing their heads and become blind and deaf: they see only their interest and are willing to override even the most sacred sentiments. At times, with the help of a wise friend, the parties are able to agree, at other times instead the hatred lasts for years and the brothers stop talking to each other.
Our prayers seem attempts to persuade God to change his plan. We would like him to comply with our ideas, that he would correct the “mistakes” committed. If we talk with him at length, we eventually understand his love and accept his designs. Prayer does not change God; it opens our minds, changes our hearts.
The temptation could be to oppose the sisters Martha and Mary, in the same way as we sometimes place the "spiritual" and the "temporal" in opposition, or the "active life" and "contemplative life", or even "the word" versus "acts".eflection for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Today we find Jesus in the house of two sisters. Martha, the oldest, puts herself to work immediately. Her feminine sensibility suggests that a glass of good wine and a plate of tasty meat, served with kindness, show more affection than any talk for a person. Mary, the youngest, instead of working in the kitchen, prefers to stay seated to listen to Jesus.
The New Testament gives us the full light, one that allows us to understand what it really means to love God. The first letter of John is very explicit: “This is love: not that we loved God but that he first loved us … . Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another” (1 Jn 4:10-11).
The apostles, invited by Jesus to follow him, abandon the nets and Levi leaves everything (Lk 5:27). To whoever wants to be his disciple, the Lord asks to “sell all that he has” and to start a new journey with him (Lk 18:22), and does not admit hesitation, indecision, afterthoughts.