In this reading Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s Prayer – and stresses the compassion and loving kindness of the Father. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
1 Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ 2 He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray: “Father, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come; 3 give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, 4 for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. And do not put us to the test.”’
5 He also said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, 6 because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; 7 and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you,” 8 I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.
9 ‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. 11 What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
Other readings: Genesis 18:20-32 Psalm 137 (138) Colossians 2:12-14
The overriding theme of this passage is the compassion and loving-kindness of the Father. Much of the material in this rather long gospel reading is found also in the Gospel of Matthew, as part of the Sermon on the Mount. The compassion of God is a major theme of the preaching of Jesus.
The first section is the shorter form of the Lord’s Prayer. Prayer for the coming of the Kingdom and for all we need to journey towards it are the essential elements. The parable of the friend who comes by night follows. It teaches perseverance in prayer. In the final section we are taught to put that teaching into practice. The fatherly love of God surpasses all human fatherhood. If human beings, prone to sin as they are, know how to care for their children, how much more can we expect from the God who is holy and who bestows the Holy Spirit on receptive souls!
Do I trust in the fatherly love of God, or does failed human love cloud my vision?
In what sense do those who ask always receive?
We pray for those who struggle to believe in the goodness of God.
We pray for those who promote false images of God.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy