The First Reading for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time focuses upon Abraham’s discussion/prayer with God. We know the discussion. God wants to destroy Sodom and the cities in the valley. Abraham, a man of compassion tries to prevent it. The debate starts with the formula, “Will you destroy” for fifty, then forty-five, then forty, then thirty, then twenty, and finally for ten. Traditions says this passage is where Jewish tradition and later Christian and parliamentary tradition came up with the idea that a quorum is ten.
This is important as we read the Gospel reading. In the Gospel, reading Jesus gives us the Our Father. It is, “Our Father who is in Heaven, the/Ha, of/She water/maim. Water flows. God is in the flow of things. He is not up there. He is here. In Hebrew, prayer is a reflexive verb. It is in the Middle Greek, also a reflexive tense. Dialogue is reflexive. It is two people discussing things together. Abraham and the angels discuss things, together. That includes how to create a more perfect union, a more perfect world.
Dedicated is your name. This is not a statement of fact. This is a promise. We dedicate his name by how we live our lives. “Your kingdom come” is also not a request. It is a promise that we are bringing his reign by the way we live our lives. “Your will be done,” is also not a request. It is a promise that we will do his will. What is his will?
“Give us this day our daily bread.” It is not, “Give me my daily bread.” It is ‘Give us.” It is a promise that we will work together to make sure all have sufficient for their needs. “Forgive us our trespasses.” This is a promise that we will forgive the trespasses of each other and strive to create a stable, caring community. This is not the prayer of individuals. It is the prayer of the quorum, the community.
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from rot.” This is the promise that we will not tempt each other. “Do not subject us to the test.” This is a promise that we do not subject each other to meaningless tests. “If you then, who are Russia/think yourselves first, 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?” He is not promising steak and potatoes. He promises the Holy Spirit. He promises the ability to discern how to create a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. The rest is up to us.
“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. 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.”
We are brothers and sisters now. We are natio- a people born together by common heritage, in baptism, with the common head of Christ. What is living in the Spirit? Acting like it. We are children of Abraham, Father of Many Nations. We are not all alike. As in any family, we all have our differences and our quirks. Being family means allowing everyone else to be who they are. As one man told me, “Always think you are the best person in the world, but don’t tell anybody. Help them to think the same thing about themselves. That is the Christian moral code in a nut shell.