Sunday, February 15, 2015

God's Presence

The Word of God challenges us to reach out compassionately to the lonely, the sick, the needy and the forgotten.

Paul challenges us to let our fellow human beings see in our attitudes and behaviors the “glory or presence of God.”

Jesus Heals a Leper
In the Gospel according to Mark, a so-called leper begs Jesus to restore him to good health.  This man was not supposed to be around people.  He’s rejected.  And yet he chooses to face yet another rejection by walking up to Jesus. And Jesus, “moved with pity,” heals him.

The point I want to highlight is this: the leper’s prayer was answered.

Sometimes our own prayers are answered.  But more often they’re not.

We may pray to God for one thing or another.  We pray that a particular wrong will be righted, and so forth.  And God seems so silent.

We may even feel like giving up on God; or thinking negatively about ourselves.  Let us pray not to succumb to negative feelings but to rise above them by reflecting on certain faith themes:

-Re-examine our image of God.  The bible offers a collage: a walking companion, a passionate debater, an anxious parent and a comforting mother in the Book of Isaiah, a prodigal father in the Gospels. God is our ever-faithful companion in life.

-Imagine if all our prayers were answered.  The storyteller Aesop tells of a dog who found a bone.  Passing by a pond, he saw a dog with a similar bone. Lurching forward to steal the bone, the dog’s own bone fell into the water: the other dog had been only his reflection.  Sometimes in our prayers there’s too much of ourselves and not enough of God and others.

-God is present in many different ways and we don’t know except by the evidence afterward.  He may seem absent, but he’s in our midst.

-Be angry but don’t stay angry.  Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel describes a concentration camp inmate who said:  I shake my fist at God; it’s my way of saying God exists. But we ultimately have to let go of our anger.

-Know that you are in good company.  Many have known the silence of God.  Keep praying.  For God is God.  God’s ultimate purpose is to satisfy our deepest longings with eternal life.

And so, as we think of “the leper whose prayer was answered,” and as we think about our own prayers, remember God’s care for us in the past and God’s continuing care for us.
The great 16th century saint Teresa of Avila, declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI, gives us this perspective:

“Let nothing disturb you;
Let nothing dismay you;
all things pass;
God never changes;
Patience gains everything;
they who have God
lack nothing:
God alone suffices.”

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