First reading: Gn. 18:20–32
In those days, the LORD said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.”
While Abraham’s visitors walked on farther toward Sodom, the LORD remained standing before Abraham. Then Abraham drew nearer and said: “Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty? Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to make the innocent die with the guilty so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike! Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?” The LORD replied, “If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Abraham spoke up again: “See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am but dust and ashes! What if there are five less than fifty innocent people? Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?” He answered, “I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there.” But Abraham persisted, saying “What if only forty are found there?” He replied, “I will forbear doing it for the sake of the forty.” Then Abraham said, “Let not my Lord grow impatient if I go on. What if only thirty are found there?” He replied, “I will forbear doing it if I can find but thirty there.” Still Abraham went on, “Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?” The LORD answered, “I will not destroy it, for the sake of the twenty.” But he still persisted: “Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time. What if there are at least ten there?” He replied, “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”
Second reading: Col. 2:12–14
Brothers and sisters: You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And even when you were dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.
Gospel: Lk. 11:1–13
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
In other words
Fr. Florencio Lagura, SVD (Christ the King Mission Seminary, Quezon City)
In times of crisis, like during the world wars and the onslaught of COVID-19, people pray. They do so “with all their hearts.” But in better times, we ask, “Do we really have to pray?” “Why?” and if so, “How?”
We do pray. Crossing the sea between Surigao and Siargao and a “chobasco” (squall) suddenly batters the pump boats, passengers instinctively bow their heads or take out their rosary beads and pray “with all their might.”
A long tradition among our people was for parents to tell their children to be home before 6 p.m. Latecomers would earn a mother’s fierce stare, a stern scowl on her face, or even a whacking with a broom or a slipper. With the children kneeling before the family altar, prayers would start with “the Angelus,” followed by the Rosary, and ending with the Litany of the Virgin Mary. After the usual prayers, children would line up and one by one take the hand of the father, then the mother, and place it on their forehead for the usual “mano po” (blessing). Thus, children learned the basic lessons on what to pray and how to pray.
But prayer, which is actually a loving conversation with God the Father with the intercession or intervention of the Saints, has to grow, just like many important things in our lives. The Lord’s disciples also felt this need to learn how to pray. They had seen John the Baptist teaching his own followers. Consequently, they went to Jesus, asking him to teach them how to pray.
And the Lord obliged by giving them, us too, the most meaningful prayer which, in verse form or more so in song, is so beautiful. It is the best prayer ever. So, too, is the “Hail Mary,” a much-loved prayer based on the words taken from the Gospel.
If “the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” the testimony to the meaningfulness and efficacy of prayer done by our families of faith reveals itself in (1) keeping families together (“The family that prays together, stays together”); (2) safeguarding the welfare—bodily and spiritual—of the family members. No one gets seriously ill, much less suffers the modern-day plague of obesity and extreme boredom.
In earlier times, parents—especially mothers—taught children the need to pray. Later, we gradually came to know the why’s, the what’s, the when’s, and the how’s of prayer. But the good habit of praying began when we were young and should continue till the last moments of our lives.