Thursday, October 06, 2016

Knock and Be Open

By Beth DeCristofaro

O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? … Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to you and works mighty deeds among you do so from works of the law or from faith in what you heard? (Galatians 3:1, 5)

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

Almighty ever-living God, who in the abundance of your kindness surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you, pour out your mercy upon us to pardon what conscience dreads and to give what prayer does not dare to ask. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. (Collect, Mass for the Day)

So what happens when prayers aren’t answered?  My dad died way too young when I needed him.  Bombs are still falling on Aleppo.  The ugly public discourse in this country seems to be heightening.  Black men continue to be shot by police and police continue to be blamed for every evil on our streets.  I struggle with being sanctimonious and disapproving.  Haiti is hammered with yet another disaster. Oh, Lord, hear my pleas!

These prayers are good, and the Lord hears, but they are also full of my own preoccupations.  Perhaps my prayer might also contain the request that the door to my own heart be opened.  Perhaps my persistence in knocking will be or even has been answered in ways that I do not yet recognize.  Perhaps the Spirit will gift me with increasing patience and a deeper awareness of Jesus’ presence every day.  Perhaps the gift of life is so precious that part of my answer is increasing empathy – which might be painful for me – to the tragedies of this world and thus an increasing capacity to give to those in need.

Paul addresses the Galatians as stupid!  Paul gets my attention too. Could I be stupid like a kid who doesn’t want to learn to read, thus misses the wonderful poetry of Shel Silverstein and Doctor Seuss?  Am I closing the doors of my heart to the Spirit by relying on myself rather than faith, God’s gift to me?   As I pray, pray, pray, may my nano-mustard seed of faith listen, listen, listen for the voice of God at my own door and recognize God’s surprising answers around me.  And may I work for God’s kingdom here on earth.

Today, try listening as well as praying.  Listen. Pray.  Listen.  Are you offering to others your last loaf of bread or a scorpion as you speak, with your attitudes, in your actions?  Let your heart be open to that which you dare not conceive of but which God has waiting for you.

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