“If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”
As a kid growing up in a large farm family, it never occurred to me to ask my parents for expensive gifts. Santa had a budget, soda was a birthday treat, eating out a special occasion and chores a given. That’s just the way it was. Little did I know then that my mother, especially, was daily giving all of us gifts far more valuable than anything under the Christmas tree.
Every evening after supper (not dinner, this was a farm) we assembled around the kitchen table with our homework, Mother presiding. She was a one-woman tutoring force, ensuring that all of us completed our assignments. We took the arrangement for granted even when we weren’t especially grateful for some of her “gifts” like demanding that we struggle with algebra and physics problems until we solved them. Not being of the math and science persuasion, I would have given up after a futile try or two. Although I never got good at either field, I learned a LOT about persistence – the kind of “good gift” that Matthew refers to in today’s gospel.
Jesus knew that wise parents do not always give their children what they seek any more than God does when we run through our daily lists of requests. I think the essence of faith is trusting that God knows our needs better than we do and trusting that our prayers may be answered in ways we cannot anticipate. Often we will see God’s wisdom only in retrospect just as I now see Mother’s wisdom in insisting completing difficult assignments.
I wonder if God sometimes sends us challenges to prepare us to cope with greater difficulties ahead. In hindsight, we may even see that our greatest difficulties led to far greater good or happiness than we could ever have imagined. The bottom line: when we are faced with adversity, instead of asking God “why me” or “how could you let this happen to me,” we should try to trust that a greater good or hidden purpose will emerge as God’s most recent gift to us.
P.S. And a Happy St. Paddy’s Day to all our readers!!!!