Prayer of Petition: Catholic homily outline for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.

As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.

Central idea: God will give us what we ask for. Doctrine: Prayer of petition. Practical application: Asking for things.

To view Lectionary 102, click here.

Central idea: God will give us what we ask for

Reading 1 Is 66:10-14c

Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,
all you who love her;
exult, exult with her,
all you who were mourning over her!
Oh, that you may suck fully
of the milk of her comfort,
that you may nurse with delight
at her abundant breasts!
For thus says the LORD:
Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms,
and fondled in her lap;
as a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.

When you see this, your heart shall rejoice
and your bodies flourish like the grass;
the LORD’s power shall be known to his servants.

  • Jesus’ second beatitude in the Sermon on the Mount is “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mt 5:4).
  • Jerusalem was the religious and political capital of ancient Israel. Many times in her history, Jerusalem was laid siege to, her inhabitants lived in fear, hunger, and thirst, and she was destroyed and her people killed or enslaved. This happened at the time of Isaiah; it would happen again in AD 70; and in the second century AD the Romans would do their best utterly to destroy Israel.
  • Yet the prophets promised that Jerusalem would be the religious capital of the world and the Gentile nations would bring their wealth to her in homage.
  • Isaiah prophesizes that Jerusalem will someday be like a mother who will care for her people like babies who are nursed, fondled, and comforted on their mother’s lap.
  • We Christians understand this place or condition to be the New Jerusalem which is the assembly of all the saved with glorified bodies living with God and the angels in the New Creation.
    • As St. Paul will say in the second reading, “neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”

“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!”
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.

He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.

Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!

  • Whenever God answers our prayers we should rejoice and be thankful, and even recall all the other works God does in creating and sustaining creation, and in all his saving acts for humanity, the children of Adam.
  • One of the most important saving events for the Jews was the Exodus: Moses led the Chosen People out of slavery in Egypt, passing through the sea safely. The central saving event for us is the Passion and Resurrection of Christ: Our Lord redeems us from the slavery to sin and death, through the waters of Baptism.
  • One key reason to pray regularly is to be aware that God answers our prayers. How foolish would it be for us to pray for something for a long time, for it to actually to come to pass, and then for us to take our new condition for granted and not thank God for helping or making happen what we have wanted?

Reading 2 Gal 6:14-18

Brothers and sisters:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision,
but only a new creation.
Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule
and to the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one make troubles for me;
for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,
brothers and sisters. Amen.

  • All Jewish men did bear on their bodies the mark of circumcision, the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham. But for us, this mark has been superseded by the New Covenant in which Jesus Christ bore on his body the marks of his Passion and Death, which he retained in some way in his glorified body.
  • Paul bears the marks of Jesus on his body through all the physical suffering and injury he endured to spread the Gospel.
  • Paul prays for the Galatians that “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” The grace of Christ in our souls pours over into our bodily lives and so we begin to bear in our bodies the marks of Jesus. People may not see cuts and bruises due to physical hardships and sufferings. They will see peace and acts of mercy which belong “to all who follow this rule.” The “rule” is associating ourselves with the Passion of Christ.

Gospel Lk 10:1-12, 17-20

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.’
Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”

The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

  • This Gospel passage recounts one of Jesus’ apostolic initiatives. He sent two-man teams of disciples to every town and village he intended to visit to prepare the people there for him, similar to the way John the Baptist prepared Israel in general for Christ. This initiative both advanced the evangelization of Israel and formed many disciples to be evangelizers.
  • Some of what Jesus said pertained only to that mission; some is of universal application.
  • One universal application is the command to pray for missionary vocations:
    • “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
    • Today, we are to pray for both traditional evangelists who fan out to the farthest corners of the world—for Jesus intends to visit everyplace—and also New Evangelists who penetrate our own culture. We are these new evangelists!
    • We who are out in the world are like lambs among wolves. This is why we have to be as cunning as foxes yet remain as innocent as lambs.
    • Unlike the seventy-two disciples who had a limited time to do their work and so dramatically rejected those who rejected their message, we don’t ever reject those who reject us and we never give up on bringing them to the Catholic faith. Instead, as Pope Francis likes to remind us, we seek them out and accompany them.
      • We may decisively reject their ideologies but not their persons.
    • Another universal application is that our pastors deserve our material and spiritual support and in turn they owe us their total dedication.
      • We should see our pastors performing miracles, at the very least the miracle of holiness. They must confront evil in themselves and around them and overcome it.

Doctrine: Prayer of petition

  • Prayer of petition is asking God for the things we and others need. Petition is one of the acts of the virtue of religion and religion is part of the virtue of justice.
  • Religion is binding ourselves to God. Asking God for good things is one way we attach ourselves to him. When we do this we are giving God what we owe him, because we are acknowledging, as the Catechism puts it, “We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him.” (CCC 2629)
  • The Catechism also points out how Christian prayer is overall hopeful prayer. It is a prayer of expectation of our full redemption and the fulfillment of the redemption of the world (CCC 2630). Our life on earth is not the only life and the only venue for whatever happiness we can experience.
  • The first step in petitionary prayer is asking for forgiveness of our sins which brings us back into communion with God, the condition we need the most (CCC 2631). Being in a right relationship with God is really the answer to all our prayers.
  • Most of “Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ . . . first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming” (CCC 2632).
  • Last comes every need. “When we share in God’s saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition” (CCC 2633).

Practical Application: Asking for things

  • It is good to pray for every need your have, but to fight self-centeredness, it is probably good to begin with the needs of others. In the Mass, the Church proposes the following rule for the series of intentions which make up the Prayers of the Faithful:

a. For the needs of the Church;
b. For public authorities and the salvation of the whole world;
c. For those burdened by any kind of difficulty;
d. For the local community. (GIRM 70)

  • If you follow an order like this, the “local community” would include your family, friends, and finally yourself.
  • It is very important to pray for the needs of those around you. It is a real exercise of charity.
  • How often should you do petitionary prayer? Our Lord said to pray always. So one good time to pray is whenever you become aware of a need. The morning offering is a good set time to anticipate the needs of those you will encounter that day.
  • At the Offertory at Mass you can “place” your petitions on the paten and in the chalice along with the bread and wine which will be transformed into the Body and Blood of Our Lord.
  • While praying the Rosary, you can set aside each decade for a particular intention.
  • At the examination of conscience at the end of the day, you can pray for any you have harmed or whose needs have become known to you.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). (To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.)

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