October 6th, 2022 – Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time (2)
Today’s Gospel follows immediately after yesterday’s, wherein one of Christ’s disciples asked Jesus to “teach them to pray just as John taught his disciples.” As we said yesterday, there’s no record of any prayer that John offered, but, since he was a holy man, we know he must have prayed and that, whatever it was he did, somehow the disciple wanted more. This “more” Christ gives is the Our Father, and the discourse on prayer today. There are two things we can point out: first, the need to persevere in prayer, and, secondly, God’s generosity in response to it.
Jesus emphasizes the need for perseverance in prayer. By this, we mean sticking to prayer, even when no response is forthcoming. It’s been said that God only gives one of three answers to prayer: “Yes,” “Yes, but not yet,” and “I have something even better in mind.” Of course, we’d often like the answer to be “yes,” and immediately at that, but God, who knows everything, knows when it’s better for us to wait, when to have us keep asking. On our part, this requires discipline and dedication; in fact, the word perseverance comes from per meaning through, and severus, meaning very strict. It is through being strict with ourselves that we await God’s answer to our prayers. As Pope St. Pius X told Saint Luis Orione: “Patience, patience, patience! With patience miracles are worked!” God is faithful, and we must believe that with all our hearts. So, what do we do when God seems to delay? As Jesus tells us in the Gospel, we keep knocking on the door. Jesus uses the analogy of a friend, but God is much more loving towards us than just any old friend; He’s our father who loves us. Our repeated prayers don’t remind Him that He loves us; they remind us that He loves us, and that we need to love Him in return. “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay,’” Peter tells us in his second letter, “but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” This is the goal: that our souls are saved, and that we make it to heaven. Everything else is secondary to that.
What is our reply to this? How do we respond when God asks us to wait? Towards the end of the book of the prophet Isaiah, we read: “Upon your walls, Jerusalem, I have stationed sentinels; by day and by night, they shall never be silent. You who are to remind the LORD, take no rest, and give him no rest, until he re-establishes Jerusalem and makes it the praise of the earth.” “Give Him no rest”: fill His ears with the sound of your prayers, and give God no rest. We must be like the sentinels of prayer, keeping an eye out for the daybreak when God will answer our prayers.
Jesus then presents a very compelling image of God the Father’s generosity, our second point. “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. . . . If you . . . know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” These words should be a great source of encouragement for us, and for two reasons: First, because they mean that God always hears our prayers and always answers them. There’s no such thing as an “unanswered prayer.” We ask, and we receive. We seek, and we find. We knock, and the door is opened. This doesn’t mean that we always get exactly what we asked for, since, as we mentioned, the ultimate goal of life here on earth is to get it heaven. Sometimes we don’t get what we asked for, and, at those times, we get something even better. Secondly, these words encourage us because they tell us to ask great things from God. As Saint Teresa of Jesus wrote, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.” “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.” Sometimes we limit God by only asking Him for small things. A heart that trusts little, asks for little, and so receives little. The heart that trusts a great deal, asks for much, and receives much.
Today, let us ask, through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, and Saint Bruno, for the grace to re-kindle our lives of prayer, knowing the importance it has for our lives, and that we have a generous Father who wants to give us what we need in this life to be with Him forever in the next.