The following is an insightful homily offered by Rev. Charles
parish priest at St. Joseph R. C. Church, New London, Ct.
On Sunday, Oct. 21, 2001, The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Once again Christ is teaching us about prayer. If prayer were not necessary, surely Jesus Himself would not have spent so much time at it.
Once a small boy undertook the task of shoveling a huge drift of snow. When asked by a gentleman how such a small boy as he with a small shovel could expect to clear away so much snow, the boy replied promptly and confidently: “By keeping at it, sir!” There is much to be accomplished if we just keep at it.
I suspect that most of us have had the experience of getting tired of praying for the same intentions again and again without any apparent result. Jesus understood this problem, and he was concerned about it. In today’s parable about the widow, He insists on the necessity of praying always and not losing heart.
A priest was at a boxing match. The man next to him, watching a boxer make the Sign of the Cross, asked the priest: “Will that help him?” “Yes”, replied the priest, “if he can box”.
Like everything else, prayer has certain ground rules; and, if we don’t know these rules, then we will be frustrated in our prayer life.
First, we need Faith. There is hardly much point in praying if we are at the same time programming what to do when our prayers are denied. It is not our prayers that God hears, but our confidence. If you pray for a sunny day for a holiday, then be sure that you take sun glasses and sun lotion when you exit your hours.
Secondly, we have got to do our part. Give God a helping hand. When we are praying to move the mountain spoken of in the gospel (Mt:17/20), then we have to remember also to bring a shovel. In other words, pray as though everything depends on God, and work as though everything depends on us. The boxer I mentioned earlier can hardly expect God’s help if he has not gotten into good physical shape. In short, do your best; then leave the rest to God.
Thirdly, don’t have over-confidence that you will get everything you pray for. Nothing in life works that way. If I can turn down another person’s request, why cannot God do the same to me? You as parents don’t always respond positively to every request of your children. If you did so, many children would quit school or eat junk food or end up in hospitals. So keep in mind that God always answers my prayer; but sometimes He is going to say “No”. Though His response is negative, His reasoning can be quite affirmative. But the good news we are told is that delay is not necessarily denial. Therefore, keep praying.
St.Theresa says in one of her books: “More tears are shed over answered prayers than over unanswered ones”. My experience teaches me that when God slams the door shut, He often leaves a window of opportunity open.
Fourth, prayer has to be “on the level”. Don’t pull God’s leg. After all, it’s His territory we are working and living, not our’s. So, when we pray, do not use qualifying clauses. Leave the “if’s, and’s and but’s” at home.
Sometimes we pray for something and don’t”really want it. St. Augustine once prayed: “Make me chaste, but not quite yet”. Prince Hamlet prayed, but was still determined to take his revenge. “My words fly up but my thougthts remain below”. Keep in mind: words without thoughts never go to heaven. In short, we cannot pray a lie.
So in conclusion, my dear friends, the world’s
most common prayer is: “My will be done”. But, dear friends, learn
to say: “Thy will be done, God’s will be done”. The object of prayer
is not to force God to change His mind, but rather to bring our’s into
line with His own. The most important message is to maintain a loving
and trusting contact with God, in spite of occasional bumps in the road.
As we all know, technology has made information-sharing instantaneous.
We expect to get what we want right now, but prayer seldom works like that.
Be persistent in prayer to God. He will bring justice speedily when
His chosen ones call out. In short,
“Keep at it”.
Thanks for listening.
“THE WAYS OF THE LORD ARE STRAIGHT, ON A CROOKED PATH”
“I LOVE YOU. I TRUST YOU. THY WILL BE DONE. I AM YOURS”
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET HABAKKUK (1:2-3; 2:2-4)
“How long, O Lord? I cry for help
but you do not listen!
I cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin;
why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and clamorous discord.
Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.
The rash one has no integrity;
but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.”
The word of the Lord.