Daily Reflection
July 25th, 2004
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.


How we relate with others is a quite clear picture of not only what we think of this person or that person, but even more what we think of ourselves.  Big people can make us feel small, both in the physical as well as the emotional areas. Being noticed by a popular or well known celebrity might make us feel pretty important. Our size seems rather flexible.

We pray with the image of God from Genesis and from Luke’s Gospel today. God has an image problem, OR WE HAVE with God. The challenge for these days is about our picture of the mysterious and unimaginable God.  If we are going to pray, which is a relationship, then our prayer will reflect our images of God and ourselves.

We pray then to let God be real in whatever that may mean. If we grovel like beaten slaves then our praying will reflect that sense of self. We pray to let God bless us so we might receive a sense of the holiness God desires to share with us. Does God listen to prayer? Is God moved by our prayers so that we receive all that we desire? We pray so as to be open to receive forgiveness and all that is contained in our Daily Bread and so to advance God’s kingdom.


Last week God visited Abraham and Sarah wherein they hosted well and received the great blessing of a promised child. Abraham later walked with his visitors to show them the way to Sodom. God wonders whether Abraham should be told by God all that God has in mind for and through Abraham and his sons. Through them will continue the just and upright way of living the relationship with God and others.

In the midst of this wondering the Lord is pictured as hearing the great outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah for their pattern of not living the just and upright way of the Lord. What we hear is Abraham’s, not bargaining, but questioning just how far God will go in forgiving. The basic question is about whether God will destroy the individual because of the sinful group. This is part of the image problem that Abraham focuses. God is the creator and if creation does not respond gratefully and reverently, then God can destroy it all and start all over. That is one image and a proper and good one. Abraham is trying, not to manipulate god, but to discover and obtain a proper picture of how this visiting God intends to make other visits; considering that not all other are as faithful and responsive as he, Abraham, is himself.

God allows parameters to begin shaping a divine image. If there is going to be a kingdom to come, then the King comes first to form the realm. This kingdom will not be ruled, but continuously formed by the personality of the King and the King’s ways of creating and recreating.

The Gospel today is also about image and about prayer. We are more familiar with “The Lord’s Prayer” according to Matthew’s version. Luke’s presentation is shorter, but the verses which follow deal with an interpretation of just what the prayer means.

Jesus when asked to teach his disciples to pray does not give instructions about how to stand or prostrate. He does not even give lists of words or ideas. Jesus tells them to bless God’s name according to the ancient Jewish forms. Then acknowledge that this most holy God is indeed bringing about holiness on the earth. In humble recognition admit then, that one needs holy-help to bring about that holiness within each individual every day.

Then Jesus, according to Luke, invites those who are relating to God through prayer to admit that they have not lived faithfully their responses to their being invited into the kingdom and so need to be forgiven. They will know what forgiveness is, because they forgive others as members of the kingdom. Then they will end by asking to be cared for by God when tempted to leave the kingdom for an other.

Luke concludes this presentation by Jesus’ telling some pertinent particular situations. Then the famous and perhaps misleading statements that when we ask it will be given, when we knock it will be opened. This is not true literally, sorry to say. Luke presents Jesus as saying something very true and more important. For all the asking humans’ do of God, what God desires to give is the Holy Spirit which in times of great need for us can seem second best. The Holy Spirit is given generously to us so that we might be aware and accepting of all the other gifts which lead us to living the kingdom together.   

We can pray as if God does not hear well. Our image of God can rise or fall according to what we receive. God is good on good days, but his stock falls on less good days. We can knock ourselves out by knocking on God’s treasure house of blessings and fail to be knocked over by what has already been given. Prayer can seem to be something we do to or with an arbitrary and sluggish deity. God prays over us and our prayer then is more than words. Our prayer is being aware of God’s daily bread of conversation with, around,
about, within and directly to us.

“O bless the Lord, my soul, and remember all his kindness.” Ps. 103


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