May I ride my tricycle on the roof or have a cookie? Print
Sunday scripture column

Jem Sullivan

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gn 18:20-32
Psalm 138:1-3, 6-8
Col 2:12-14
Lk 11:1-13

In the classic cartoon, Calvin and Hobbes, the mischievous Calvin is known for pushing the envelope with his parents. In a typical exchange, Calvin makes a series of requests to his mother in the hope of wearing her down. He begins with a clearly inappropriate request, “Mom, can I set fire to my bed mattress?”

Persisting on, Calvin then asks if he can ride his tricycle on the roof! To these outlandish requests, his mother simply says, “No, Calvin.” Finally, he moves on to the request he was hoping for all along, “Then can I have a cookie?” Once again, his request is denied, at which point Calvin gives up and says with a sigh, “She’s on to me!”

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus points to the simple human gesture of parents who give good gifts to their children to illustrate the nature of prayer. Jesus compares God’s gracious gift of the Holy Spirit to the generosity of parents who desire to give their children only good gifts.

God is generous beyond our imagining. Prayer is our conversation with God when we discover this immense ocean of God’s merciful love. God’s limitless generosity is the foundation of our hope and faith whenever we turn to God in prayer.

God promises to be with us, even when our requests do not bear the fruit we expect. Just being in conversation with our Creator is an answer to prayer as the Holy Spirit moves our hearts gently into the light of God’s grace.

Prayers, answered and unanswered, bring us closer to God, the fountain of true peace.

Jem Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.