Daily Reflection
August 8th, 2001
Chas Kestermeier, S.J.
Jesuit Community
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Memorial of St. Dominic 
Numbers 13:1-2, 25--14:1, 26-29, 34-35
Psalms 106:6-7, 13-14, 21-22, 23
Matthew 15:21-28

Scripture may be the Word of God, but we must still approach it with intelligence and that sort of suspicion which will help us to seek out the hidden treasure which it contains.  Today's gospel reading, for example, seems to be clear and have several levels of meaning:  the priority of Jewish claims on God's beneficence, the value of persistence in prayer, etc.  And we can see that this latter point is supported by what Jesus has to say about the man seeking bread in the middle of the night (a passage we read on Sunday just ten days ago) or about the widow and the unjust judge.

One tool of critical importance in our understanding of a passage like this is our personal experience, for when we confront our own experience of asking God for something and the seeming silence our request is met with we might and often do wonder whether God is listening or even whether the value of persistence in prayer is a hoax.  Which leads us, or at least should lead us, to a personal conversation with God about the problem. 

Some possible points to consider in this situation:  maybe we are asking for something that is not good for us or for others and maybe instead God is taking seriously our petition in the "Our Father" that asks that God's will, not ours, be done.  Or maybe God is willing but the people we are asking him to influence are actively turning a deaf ear to his voice.  Or the changes we are asking for cannot happen in a moment:  ocean liners are not as maneuverable as bicycles, and we human beings have a lot of history and momentum to overcome.

Or maybe I'm saying that Scripture is not simply God's word to us but a place where, in the Spirit, we have a privileged place to exchange words with God, a place where we cooperate in his teaching our hearts and his helping us to grow in understanding, wisdom, patience, gratitude, and love.

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