24 Jul Wednesday
“Persistence” in the Gospel translates “αναιδειαν” which is more accurately to say “shamelessness”. Abraham bargains with God in the first reading, shamelessly. This quality Jesus says goes over and above any friendship, and Abraham was certainly a friend of God because of his faith. It might be even called presumptuous. This sort of petition and debate stretches the limits of friendship; it has a quality of outrageousness to it, and Abraham is not bargaining for himself, but for people (besides Lot’s family) whom he does not even know or like, given the battles in Gn. 14.
We’ve all probably bargained with God, typically when we are sick. We couple the bargaining with promises to be good, often that we know we’re not necessarily going to be able to keep. Abraham does not do this. His arguing with God has a certain kind of purity, simplicity, and directness about that is a likable quality. The incident is told with a bit of tongue in cheek humor which our cultural language does not grasp.
The prayer that Jesus teaches has these qualities, and we repeat this prayer often and everywhere. Most people memorized it as children. “When you pray, say . . . ” are both in the ongoing and continuously repeated action of these verbs. There is no doubt that Jesus intended his disciples to use this prayer often and together. Note that there is no “you” singular; it is “our”, “us”, and “we” throughout. It is a communal prayer.