XVII Sunday in Ordinary Time
28 July 2019
I caught the tail end of a conversation on the radio the other day a woman was commenting on the culture and she said something striking … we live now, she said, in a cancelation culture … when we don’t agree with someone, when we have differing opinions, we cancel that person… we say “I’m done with you.” We do the exact same thing with God. We ask God for so many things … many of them good things … but when He seemingly doesn’t respond – in the way we want Him to – we cancel Him. A woman prayed everyday for weeks for the right man to come into her life, she went to Mass, stopped in church during the week … but after weeks with no response, she gave up … and now doesn’t pray, doesn’t go to Mass … she canceled God. A family praying for their daughter’s healing of leukemia … went to Mass, prayer groups … but when she died, they gave up. They stopped praying, stopped going to Mass … they canceled God. Maybe some of you sitting in the pews today, here out of duty but have given up … canceled God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines prayer as the raising of the heart and mind to God … so is it wrong that we tell Him what is on our minds and in our hearts? Those things… relationships, health issues, situations at work and at home… that lie deep within us – is it wrong? Of course not! So, why is it that when we petition God, when we come to Him with the longings of our hearts, when we pray … why doesn’t He answer us the way we want Him to? I think that is the key … we look for God to answer the way we want Him to … how selfish of us! Its not that He isn’t listening to us and it is not wrong for us to pray for things we need … its just that we’re too selfish. We give up too easily … He asks us to be persistent … Jesus tell us in the Gospel … “how much more will my Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Prayer is the raising of the heart and mind to God but not so that we can just get what we want … it is to expand our hearts in a greater capacity to love – to love God and neighbor … it is to draw us closer to His heart … it is so that the Holy Spirit will come into our lives, our hearts, our minds, more fully and completely to bring peacefulness, and the assurance of the presence of God in our lives … Is God listening to us – Yes … Are we listening to Him? Are we doing our part by being persistent, persevering, struggling, and accepting … or do we just give up?
Maybe what we are asking for isn’t what God wants for us right now … maybe He wants to teach us something, draw us closer to His heart through difficult moments or situations or people … Maybe the answer is right before our eyes but we gave up too soon to realize it.
Fifty years ago President Kennedy told the American people we were going to the moon – not because it is easy but because it is hard … Life, faith, can often be hard, incomprehensible … and yet the blessings of God await those who persevere, who persist … who don’t give up.