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Fr Peter’s Front Page Reflection Jul 22, 2022

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr Peter Brannelly resized
Fr Peter Brannelly resized

Be Brief, Be Bold, Be Persistent


Did you know that Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was only 250 words long?  The man before Lincoln spoke for over an hour.  The man who followed Lincoln spoke for even longer. Yet today no one remembers who they were or what they said.  Lincoln’s two and a half minutes, by contrast, changed the history of the United States and the sentiments of his words are some of the most powerful and evocative in western literature.

I think, in part, it is the brevity of Lincoln’s words that makes them so powerful. Brevity, knowing what point you want to make and getting to it is always a good challenge to preachers too!

In today’s Gospel we will hear Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer.  It is good to remember that it has only 38 words and, like Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, is another example of how a few sentences have changed our history.

It starts out as his disciples, which really means all of us, ask Jesus how to pray.  That is a bit like the winner of MasterChef coming to our kitchen and showing us how to cook!  Notice that he does not give instructions about how to stand or prostrate themselves. He does not even give lists of words or ideas. He starts out by addressing his Father as “Abba”, meaning “Daddy” in the Aramaic language Jesus spoke.

Right from the start we are being told that prayer is about relationship – between us and our Father. That’s why we pray!

The second thing that stands out for me is – the more you say, or pray, or reflect upon the words, the more radical, challenging and life changing they become; because they encourage an approach or attitude to prayer which we might not even appreciate. It is almost as if Jesus is unambiguously encouraging a bold, confident, even brazen attitude towards approaching God in prayer.

To follow his example is to cultivate a way of praying that is hopeful, expectant and sure of God’s goodness and generosity.

This confidence in our relationship with God probably helps explain why Jesus goes on to reassure us in no uncertain terms that God answers our prayers. He reinforces this by telling a parable about a persistent neighbour who asks a friend for bread at midnight. The friend is already in bed and has no desire to disturb his family by opening the door. But because the neighbour is persistent, the sleeping man gets up and gives him all that he needs. If a neighbour is willing to help us if we are persistent enough, how could God not respond to our requests?

That is why if we seek, we will get a response. If we knock, we will get an answer. It might not necessarily be answered in the way we expect, but God always answers our prayers.

Wishing you every blessing for the week ahead.

Fr Peter Brannelly



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