The readings for today lead me to think about the themes of faith, trust, and power of prayer. I will address these themes by sharing some personal discoveries.
The first reading reminds us of the need for faith in being saved. As seems typical in some Old Testament readings, God will separate the faithful from those who are not. I see this as akin to some parables in the New Testament when Jesus speaks of separating the wheat from the chaff. We must live the word of Christ and trust that by living that word we will be saved. I was at a retreat this past weekend where several times we were selecting words to describe our feelings in situations. At one point the word trust caught my eye. As I looked at that word, I realized that it begins and ends with the cross. I became more enthralled and intent as I further examined the word. Not only did it begin and end with the cross but the middle was “us” or “u” depending upon how you looked. That seemed quite poignant to me, that we would be in the middle surrounded by the cross. I feel a great deal of comfort in that picture of the word and what that word means to me. There is comfort in knowing that we have been saved by the cross and that we are nestled in the middle of it. Perhaps this seems far fetched to some but each time after as I looked at the word, trust, this image was very vivid. I even wrote it a few times on my paper emphasizing the crosses. I felt I had made a great discovery.
The gospel emphasizes the need to confront those with whom we have disagreements and to work these through together. This is still the approach that is recommended to this day, in negotiation and mediation. Two entities searching for common ground on which to discuss differences. In His guidance, Jesus suggests we bring such differences up the “ladder” as we involve more people and unbiased groups to hear the discussion and seek solutions. It is the end of this gospel that gives us much comfort, the knowledge that as we gather together in prayer, our prayers are even more powerful than those heard alone. I am reminded of the awesomeness of shrines where crowds of people gather and share powerful prayers.
I was fortunate to grow up near Our Lady of LaSallette Shrine in Massachusetts. My mother loved to go there and derived so much comfort from the various areas to pray. I can recall when I was very young my frail grandmother wanting to pray the stations along the route and being pushed in her wheelchair. The most profound display of trust and prayer together for me there is that of my brother. He was a young man in his twenties when he decided to join the army some 46 years and before entering made a trip to LaSallette. I was quite surprised when he told of praying on his knees up the steep steps in one area of the shrine. He was not one to discuss religion or his faith and had never even spoke of his beliefs, yet as a young child I was moved by his display of faith. It became even more significant because it was 45 years ago (this day as I write the reflection) that he was killed serving his country. I’d like to believe that his faith in that visit and his act of such sincere prayer brought him great comfort. On one of my trips home in recent years my sister and I along with our husbands made the trek to LaSallette. We both recalled my brother’s action so many years before but with very different views. As we reflected upon his visit there, my sister stated that it didn’t do him any good because he died the next year. I was completely taken aback and immediately retorted that perhaps that visit was a saving grace for him in his final resting. It had seemed so out of character for him to make that visit at all and I have to believe he was divinely led to find peace and comfort for what lay before him.
We have many opportunities to come together and pray. We may not always “hear” the answer we are seeking but it is faith that sustains us. When we trust in the Lord, and believe that we are nestled in the saving grace of the cross, we will find comfort and peace. Remember the saying, “God is my co-pilot?” Many will advise that you are in the wrong seat.
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