While I am away on my vacation, I leave the following Reflection for your consideration. —Msgr. Richard
A man was driving around in a sweat because he couldn’t find a parking place and he was late for an important meeting. Looking up to heaven he prayed, “Lord help me! If you find me a parking place I’ll go to Mass every Sunday for the rest of my life and I’ll give up drinking whiskey.” A parking place opened up right in front of the building where he had his meeting. The man looked up to heaven again and said, “Never mind, Lord; I just found one.”
A Catholic School teacher asked one of her young students “now tell me honestly, Johnny, do you say prayers before meals?” “No, said Johnny, I don’t have to. My Mom is a good cook.” Johnny hadn’t learned yet that prayer is more than asking for things.
In the Gospel two Sundays ago, a scribe asked Jesus “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered with a lesson on love by telling the story of the Good Samaritan. Last Sunday was the story of Martha and Mary, where Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him. It is most likely St. Luke was trying to tell us it’s good to help our neighbor, but it’s also good to take time to be with our Lord and get away from all the ways we manage to keep busy. Remember the answer to the question of the scribe has two parts. We are to love God with our whole being and love our neighbor as ourselves. Today’s Gospel follows immediately after the story of Martha and Mary. It seems that after telling us it is a good thing to spend time with our Lord, St. Luke is giving us an additional lesson on prayer.
St. Luke’s version of the Our Father is essentially the same but a little shorter than St. Matthew’s version. St. Luke connects it with an encouragement to persevere in prayer and not quit. Perseverance in prayer was also the point of today’s first Reading.
Somehow my father had the idea that it was being selfish to pray for his own needs. I think the Our Father teaches us we should pray for all the things we need, including a parking place, if we need one. But the Our Father also teaches us first to praise God and to align our will with God’s will before praying for ourselves.
Perseverance in prayer is one of the most important lessons we need to learn if we’re going to grow spiritually. In our world today, we learn to hate waiting for things. That includes waiting for God. We know we don’t need to inform God of what we need and we don’t have to wake Him up or get His attention because he knows every detail of our lives. We need to pray and to keep asking and knocking so that we can develop our relationship with our God and our creator, a relationship that is the most important relationship of all relationships.
At the end of today’s gospel, Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive.” He doesn’t say, “you might receive or maybe you’ll receive, but you will receive.” What He is saying is that no prayer is wasted. Prayer cannot fail to bring some blessing—even if it’s not the thing we think we need most. If we truly believe God is all-wise and all-loving, then we have to conclude that if we do not receive what we’ve asked for, God has something better in mind. Partly why people give up on prayer is they do not have faith in God’s wisdom and love. Prayer will always work for us in some marvelous way. We must trust the Lord in that. Amen! —Rev. Joe Robinson