Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
20 Jul 2022

Reading I: Genesis 18:20-32
Psalm 138: 1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8
Reading II: Colossians 2: 12-14
Gospel: Luke 11: 1-13



The Best Answer of All


The last line of today’s gospel might strike us as a bit anti-climactic. The gospel reading begins with the great prayer that Jesus taught his disciples: addressing God with affection, acknowledging God’s mystery, aligning ourselves with God’s dream for the world, asking for daily needs, our (probably daily) forgiveness, and God’s strength when we are tempted choose ourselves over such a simple and powerful vision. 

Our God is a God, Jesus goes on to tell us, who hears us when we pray, and hears us gladly and generously. We don’t have to beg and cajole God like you would a grouchy neighbor whom you have just awakened in the middle of the night. No. All we have to do is ask, to seek, to knock, and God will provide. God knows what we need better than we do, and will always give us the best thing—not things that just look good, but which are good. We can just ask for anything, Jesus tells us, and God will not hesitate to give us—the HOLY SPIRIT.

Yes. This might indeed seem a bit anti-climactic. We so often interpret these lines about prayer as praying to a God who gives us what we want and what we think we need—good health, healing, security, relationships, safety. We can always get the Holy Spirit!

Until we realize that the Holy Spirit is the best answer of all—

a really nourishing fish, a fragrant loaf of bread, 

the love and generosity that helps us feed the stranger who arrives unexpectedly, perhaps as a migrant or refugee, or a person who is homeless

the courage to forgive those who sin against us, 

the wisdom to take the right path in our lives,

the compassion and energy to stand up for justice, to side with the poor, with our hurting planet. 

The Holy Spirit is the mercy of God revealed to Abraham in our first reading, who would spare a whole city for the sake of a very few,

The Holy Spirit is the life given to us in Baptism that our Colossians reading proclaims.

The Holy Spirit is our daily bread, who gets us through difficult, confusing, and horrific times like our own—and like the last several weeks!

The Holy Spirit is the hope for a wounded world that Leonardo Boff describes so powerfully: “that little flicker of fire burning at the bottom of the woodpile. More rubbish is piled on, rain puts out the flame, the wind blows the smoke away. But underneath everything, a brand still burns on, unquenchable.”

The Holy Spirit is God’s pledge that, while God does not intervene to fix situations in a world created in freedom, God will never abandon us. God will be with us every step of the way. If we know how to give good gifts to our friends and our children, how much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. 

“Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me,” we prayed in our responsorial psalm. The Holy Spirit is the best answer of all.


Steve Bevans, SVD

Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD Professor of Mission and Culture, Emeritus