May 26, 2022
by David Crawford
Creighton University-Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday, the Sixth Week of Easter
Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest
Lectionary: 294

Acts 18:1-8
Psalm 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4
John 16:16-20

Praying Ordinary Time

For those celebrating the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord today.

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying As We Age

“I don’t know.”  How uncomfortable and even frustrating it can be to struggle with not knowing or not understanding something that you assume you should be able to grasp.  As I write this, students across the country are taking, or have just finished taking, final exams.  I can imagine study groups engaged in animated discussions about a confusing concept that will be on the test.  “What does the professor mean by . . . ?”  Some in the group may have been reluctant to admit they did not comprehend this point, and thus (without knowing they are following Proverbs 17:28) kept their lips closed with the hope that their colleagues will consider them intelligent (or at least will not think them stupid).  You might be thinking, “Why don’t they ask the professor?”  Some will, but for whatever reason, some will not.

Our gospel reading gives us a particular “study group” grappling with something Jesus has told them.  The disciples are comfortable enough with revealing to one another their lack of understanding, but for whatever reason they did not ask Jesus for clarification, even though they wanted to ask Him.  Perhaps they were embarrassed to admit to Jesus, this One they followed so closely, that they could not comprehend what He had told them.  But Jesus knew.  He knew that they did not understand.  He knew they were agonizing as they tried to understand.  He even knew (v. 19) that they wanted to ask Him, so He came to them to engage in the conversation and to ease their collective and individual agony.

Too often we, collectively and individually, agonize as we search for answers to the questions and problems that confront us.  Too often we make things more difficult and cause more suffering for ourselves by trying to handle issues on our own instead of turning to our Lord.  Too often we know that we should turn to God but are reluctant to do so, for any number of reasons.  Take heart!  The Holy Spirit already knows you want to ask for help and is ready to be with to you, just as Jesus came to his disciples.  I take enormous comfort in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit knows my many weaknesses, faults and inadequacies, and loves me anyway.  One of my favorite passages seems to fit here:  God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.  If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.  He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.  He knows us far better than we know ourselves . . . .” (Romans 8:26-27, The Message translation).

Holy Spirit, thank you for being with us in our times of questioning, for reminding us that you will not leave us alone as we struggle.  Thank you for being close to us and welcoming us even after we have failed to seek for you. 

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