Nov 13, 2010 - Saturday Meditation (Will we be Faithful Pray-ers?) When He asks if the Son of Man will find faith on earth, I think Jesus is putting the ball in our court – will we have the faith to keep open the lines of communication with God? Will we continue to pray in the many ways Jesus taught us – to be in conversation with God, to lay our joys and sorrows, our satisfactions and concerns, before the Almighty Judge? Will we be faithful pray-ers, people who want to deepen our relationship with the Almighty, not for the sake of any personal gain, but for the sheer joy of being in constant communion with our Spiritual Savior? Memorial of St. Frances Cabrini 3 John 5-8 Ps 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 Luke 18:1-8 And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; 3 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.' 4 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'" 6 And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Meditation by Tom Purcell I have to admit that as I have aged, and hopefully become a little wiser, my perception of this parable has changed significantly. When I first encountered it as a child, it seemed to say “Keep asking for what you want, and God will one day answer you – keep the faith that God hears and will respond.” It seemed primarily one direction – we ask, and eventually we rise to the top of the in-box and get some kind of response. Later, theology classes and Jesuits suggested that God might be responding by not responding – i.e., that God hears, and the lack of receiving what I sought is itself a response. But it always left me with a sense of uncertainty, this negative confirmation, because I wasn’t really sure if the answer was “no” or if the time was not right for the answer to be “yes.” Hence being faithful meant keep asking. When I became a parent, I could more easily relate to the judge who was incessantly asked for a judgment in favor of the asker. A child is much like the widow – asking repeatedly for some privilege or redress of perceived grievances, asking for justice as she sees it, not as the judge with greater perception sees the situation. In most cases the child has more motivation to continue asking than does the parent have patience in resisting. And so, as with the judge, the parent may eventually say “Fine, you can go!” because the child, with their insistence, has worn down their resistance. But now, when I reflect on this passage, I have different perceptions. The judge acted more for personal reasons (to avoid being attacked by the woman) than from a sense of doing the right thing. Jesus says clearly that God will do justice speedily (the right thing) for His chosen ones. So God acts, as we hope, in our best interests, not selfishly, as did the judge. And I have found prayer to be much more than rote recitation of standardized devotions or regular asking for blessings and favors. There certainly is a place for that type of prayer, and we can derive great value and comfort from that approach. But Jesus showed us so many other ways to pray. He brought awareness of nature into His prayer – noticing the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields. He prayed in His sense of sharing in communal gatherings, such as the loaves and fishes and the last supper. He provided a great summary of spiritual wisdom in the Our Father. He taught us to pray silently in nature, in retreats, in our daily work and lives. He taught us to pray for and with others who are least respected by our society. He taught us that our prayer is part of our spiritual journey to reconcile with God. We can find prayerful moments and acts in every movement and statement that Jesus makes. He brought a sense of spiritual awareness to all He did and challenges us to do the same. When He asks if the Son of Man will find faith on earth, I think Jesus is putting the ball in our court – will we have the faith to keep open the lines of communication with God? Will we continue to pray in the many ways Jesus taught us – to be in conversation with God, to lay our joys and sorrows, our satisfactions and concerns, before the Almighty Judge? Will we act on our belief that God will be there for us, perhaps not to always give us what we want, but to hear us, to console us, to help us find our way as we navigate through our complex and messy lives here on earth, and thus to eventually help us find justice? Will we be faithful pray-ers, people who want to deepen our relationship with the Almighty, not for the sake of any personal gain, but for the sheer joy of being in constant communion with our Spiritual Savior? And so my prayer today is for the gift of faithful communication, prayer that asks but also listens, prayer that is based on an awareness of who I am and where I am going, prayer that is as simple and as complex as is the God on whom I am dependent for my very being.