Today’s readings promise that God hears us. The first reading
and the song from Jeremiah promise that “with age old love I have loved you…
again I will restore (or 'build') you” and claim “The Lord
will guard us.” Then we have this nice story from Matthew of the persistent
foreign woman who wore our Lord down until he finally said, “O woman, great
is your faith,” and healed her daughter.
We all pray our prayers of petition: “Cure this illness. Help me do
this. Make my car start, the storm pass, the decision come my way.”
We want favors, we want comfort, we want miracles. During the Cold War era
of the 1950’s, my mother prayed devoutly for “the conversion of Russia,”
and within 20 years after her death, the “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union
collapsed. Yet the economic and social situations in Russia and other
nations of the former USSR are surely not models of fully “converted” societies
today–- nor do we see perfection in any nation. We are always praying
for “peace in the world.” We persist in asking for the miracle, the
In fact, Jesus taught us to ask for miracles, teaching us to pray “Our Father
… Thy Kingdom come…. Give us this day our daily bread … Deliver us from evil.”
Look at the newspaper, turn on CNN: we haven’t exactly been delivered from
evil, have we? Yet this Canaanite woman’s story encourages us to keep
praying. After all, it’s only 20 centuries, a tiny bit of time in this
planet’s history, since Jesus taught us to pray. We might as well persist
a while longer!
I’m on the phone list of a “prayer line” in my parish. Every week I
get and pass along a list of requests for specific prayers. We pray for such
needs as cures of diseases, jobs for the unemployed, successful pregnancies,
easeful deaths for the dying, comfort for grieving families, support for
our nation’s armed services. I believe that our prayers benefit the people
we pray for. I know that praying for these people benefits me.
Today is the feast day of St. John Vianney, the “Cure of Ars” (meaning the
parish priest of the village of Ars in France), the patron saint of priests.
He was famous for his faith, love, prayer and sacrifices, and huge numbers
of people came from all over the world to have him hear their confessions.
Remembering his example, let us pray today for the needs of our priests,
and of all men and women who minister to their fellow Christians, teaching
them to persist in prayer for the world’s healing as Jesus did, “Thy Kingdom