Daily Reflection for Monday, July 18, 2022
Peace and Blessings, Friends and Parishioners,
We encourage you to reflect on Monday’s readings at this link:
If you prefer to use your own Bible, the readings are:
First Reading: Micah 6:1-4,6-8
Responsorial: Psalm 50:5-6,8-9,16BC-17,21,23
Gospel: Matthew 12:38-42
Our reflection on Monday’s readings:
An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it…Matthew 12:39
“See a penny, pick it up. All the day you’ll have good luck.” I was walking and thinking about the readings for this reflection when I saw a shiny penny lying in the dirt at the side of the road. When I was a child, I remember looking for “signs” such as this that something I was hoping for or praying for would come to pass. As I got older, I realized that found pennies were not likely to influence the future. But I would still ask God for signs that some particular prayer or desire would be granted. Later, I began to realize that asking for a sign that my prayers were being heard was tantamount to saying that I did not have faith that God was really listening to me. I was bargaining with God and putting Him to the test, which Jesus specifically reminds us we have been warned not to do (see Matthew 4:7). I still have to struggle with this truth. I have a hard time leaving the penny in the dust.
Why do we seek these signs? Our culture is oriented toward productivity. We measure our success by the amount of material goods we accumulate, or the accolades or awards we earn through our work. Prayer cannot be reduced to this type of economy. Several years ago, I read this reflection by Fr. Bernard Bro that brought that point home to me. He explained that when we pray with a specific objective in mind, we have “reduced prayer to its utilitarian value”. We measure how productive our prayer is by whether we achieve our goal. In doing so, he writes, “We offend against the virtue of hope.” We do not allow the Lord to be the Lord and reveal the answers to our prayers in His own time or in His own way.
Recently, my younger sister was walking through a terminal illness with her best friend. She enlisted all of my sisters and my Mom as her prayer warriors. In the beginning we were all praying for her friend to recover. Then it became clear she would not. As bad news piled on top of bad news, it was hard to know what to pray for. My wise Mom said that she was no longer praying for a specific outcome but just that the Lord would be merciful to her and that she would be comforted. We all began to pray that prayer as well as a prayer for strength for my sister who was truly her angel in this difficult journey. My sister’s friend never wavered in her belief that the Lord was with her and she died praising Him. Our prayers did not save her life. But who could say that the Lord didn’t answer them once we stopped making demands and just allowed Him to love her into Heaven?
Lord, give me the humility to understand who I am, and who You are. Keep me open to hope and give me patience when I want immediate answers.