October 9th, 2003
Tom Shanahan, S.J.
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1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
The passage in today’s gospel reading follows immediately upon
St. Luke’s version of the Our Father. It seems to give further explanation
of the disciples’ original petition of Jesus: “Lord, teach us how to pray.”
I am struck by the stress on persistence in prayer. Jesus tells the
story of the man who at midnight goes to ask a friend for loaves of bread
because friends of his have come unexpectedly and he needs to feed them after
their long journey.
If the friend replies that he is already in bed and he won’t give up his
bread, the story indicates that even though he doesn’t give up the bread
because of his friendship, he will give it up because of his persistence.
The familiar words of Jesus are an encouragement to us, “ask and you will
receive; seek and you will find.” Anyone who asks receives and
the one who knocks will have the door opened for her. The “bottom line”
is that God gives to us out of love and God knows us intimately to give us
what is good for us.
This bottom line is so clear and yet its truth comes to us so slowly.
The spirit of the gospel reading today is that I am called to boldness
in my asking God for what I want. Often enough I don’t expect that the
prayers will get answered and this is MY difficulty, and not the issue with
prayer in general and especially prayer of petition. As any good parent wants
what is best for their children, so God wants what is best for us and will
provide it. Can I believe and trust in that? That’s the challenge
of the gospel today.
Can I be bold in asking? and in expecting that my petition will be answered?
St. Ignatius in the Spiritual Exercises makes it abundantly clear that the
one making the retreat is to articulate what she/he wants from the particular
exercise about to be done. The id quod volo (“that which I want”)
is a key to the outcome of the Exercises themselves. For us who are
engaged in the “online retreat” we need to be bold and persistent in asking
God for what we want.
Lord, help me to know that you care and love me. Help me to expect
that care to be realized concretely in my life and not to be afraid to ask
for it. Help me to develop the persistence of the man in Jesus’ story
to the writer of this reflection.
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