Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday of the First Week in Lent

Today's Saints: Cyril & Methodius

(Also, have a fun Saint Valentine's Day!)

Today's Readings:
Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25
Ps 138:1-3, 7-8
Matt 7:7-12

Will God answer your prayers?

In today's Gospel passage, Jesus is assuring us that we can rely on our Father who is in heaven; we can ask and it will be given to us.

To convince us of this, he reminds us of the good that we do for our children. Certainly, our Father loves us like that and even more! So, why do we doubt that he's giving us everything we need? Why do we fear that he might not care enough about us? Of course he won't give us anything as useless as a stone when we've asked for something good (the loaf of bread)!

Where Jesus lived, bread was baked in a shape similar to stones. His listeners probably chuckled at the idea of frying rocks for dinner. And they knew it was absurd to mistake a poisonous snake for a real meal, even though the "barbut" fish they ate looked kind of like a serpent.

Think of snakes the next time you ask God for help. Why would Perfect Love mistakenly — or deliberately — substitute something harmful for something good?

Doubt creeps in because God doesn't always answer our prayers the way WE want him to. We need to remind our doubting minds that he's not ignoring us. He's not too busy. He's not punishing us. He's not unkind or unloving at all. God always gives us what he knows is best for us, at the perfect time, and in a way that benefits everyone who's affected by it.

True prayer involves giving God our love and trust so completely that we can say, "Here's my request, Daddy. Answer it any way you choose, even if it's not the way I want it or expect it. I thank you now, before my prayer is answered, because I know you're already working on a plan that's very good."

Queen Esther knew this. That's why she could confidently pray, in today's first reading, "Save us by your power, and help me, who am alone and have no one but you, O Lord." She was a Jew married to a pagan king who was about to destroy all the Jews in his territory. By God's power working through her, the people were saved.

We can overcome our doubts by thanking God as the Psalmist did in our responsorial: "Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me." ON THE DAY! We don't actually see it that soon (not usually), but we know God is immediately — that very day — taking action to help us.

Prayer doesn't control God; prayer helps us trust God. When we don't trust God, we take matters into our own hands, and that's usually how we fall into sin. But when we remember that we can trust God, resisting sin becomes easier.


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