Sunday, July 24, 2016

Don't fear, pray and trust

     Often, I have a dream where  I'm in school, it's the end of the quarter and I haven't attended any classes.  And, I am taking the final exam but I don't know anything about the subject.   I'm freaking out and don't know what to do. 
     I think that this dream relates to my fear of being unprepared and looking foolish.  I normally don't just wing it.  I like to be in control.  But, sometimes things are outside of my control. 
     Today, we see a world where things are spiraling out of control.  In Baton Rouge, Dallas, Orlando, Munich, Paris, and elsewhere, evil seems to have the upper hand.   These tragic events seem to be happening at an increasingly rapid pace.  Our governments are trying to find the bad guys before they do evil things.  And often they are successful but occasionally,  the evil happens.  It is enough to give us nightmares.  
     Several weeks' ago, I attended a conference for priests, deacons, and seminarians with Father Wood.  The first speaker, Father Dave, encouraged us not to fear but to pray.  He encouraged us not to get overwhelmed by our day to day work or by the evil in our world today, but to focus on prayer and on our primary responsibility - the salvation of souls. 
     This same message applies to all of us.  We can get so overwhelmed by our day to day needs and by things that don't really matter, like the many activities that we or our children participate in, that we forget what really matters - the salvation of souls.  For each of us, our critical job is to lead ourselves, our spouses, and our children to heaven.  Everything else is not very important.
     So, how do we do this?  Of course, prayer is a very important part.  Hopefully, our prayers aren't a negotiation with God, like we heard Abraham negotiating with God in the first reading.  We might say, I'll come to church every Sunday if you'll just get me a job.  Or, I'll put money in the collection basket if you'll just heal me of this illness.  We should trust that God will answer our prayers.  Our prayers should strengthen our relationship with our loving God.  God knows what is best for us in the long term, for our salvation, better than we do.  He might allow us to carry a cross so that we start relying on him instead of ourselves. 
     I'm not suggesting that if we just pray and turn things over to God, our lives will be perfect.  No, but when we can rid of the evil, the sin in our lives, we can be a beacon of hope and love to those that we meet.  This is something that we can control which will have an impact on our family and our friends.
     With the evil events occurring the world today, It might seem that we should be on the defensive.  We might want to protect ourselves and our families and even our church from harm.  So, we might just try to build walls to protect ourselves from those that might harm us.  We might keep to ourselves or interact only with those that we know.  But, this isn't want the Lord did and it isn't what he wants us to do.  Instead, we are to go on the offensive.  We are to get out of our churches, our homes, and our offices and show the love of the Lord to everyone we meet.
     A great example for us to follow in this area is Mother Theresa.  In the midst of turmoil in India, she went to the poorest of the poor and met their needs.  And, along with her sisters, she even found time to pray several hours each day for those they ministered to .
     Today's Gospel tells us to ask and we will receive, seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened.  God is there for us especially in those areas we cannot control.  We just have to trust in Him.   We also should seek His guidance and should follow His will in key areas of our lives.  Before we take a new job, or buy a house, or determine our vocation in life, or decide upon our future spouse, we should pray and listen.  And, we should turn to him when things seem to be spiraling out of control either in our lives or in our nation.
     In today's Gospel, “friend” is mentioned three times and  friendship is used once. The atmosphere of this parable is a world of friendship. The one asking, is a friend. The unexpected guest who came at midnight, is a friend. The one inside, with the much-needed bread, is a friend.  Jesus’ listeners expected a favorable response from the person inside: one friend helping another friend to feed a friend who came visiting.
     If a friend would respond favorably to a request, how much more will God favor us? And we don’t have to wear God down. The parable urges us to express our constant and daily trust in God. We won’t get discouraged. We won’t give up. There is something in trustful asking and in persistence.  As we wait for a response, we come to grow in trust for Jesus, our friend, who will provide for our real needs, the ones only God can know.

    Today's Gospel is all about prayer and trust.  Jesus tells us how to pray and gives us the Our Father.  Then, he tells us that he will answer our prayers.  So, we can say with conviction: Jesus, I trust in you.