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17th Sunday

We ask…, and yet often our prayers seem unanswered, God appears deaf or silent….

So sometimes we try to barter with Him unsuccessfully: If you listen to me, then…. Prayers, a pilgrimage, a pious act, a donation to the poor, quitting an addiction? What can I do to make Him listen to me!   Probably all of us have had this experience, a difficult, sometimes dramatic experience of unheard prayers. We rebel in spirit because, after all, it is written: ” Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find….” And we ask and we don’t get, we don’t find….

Many times in the Gospels we witness various miracles, sometimes very spectacular. But when we pause over the Gospel texts, far more often we witness prayers whether whispered or shouted towards a heaven where our prayers appear to be lost.

The despair and prayers of the mothers of the children of Bethlehem, the dashed hopes of the many blind men, the tragedies of the paralytics who remained on their beds….                            Even the great and pious prophet, John the Baptist did not experience a miracle either, and of the thousands of dead only three were raised: Lazarus, the boy from Nain and the daughter of Jairus. And the others! Why not the others?   Can we afford – perhaps through teeth clenched in pain – to say the words with trembling lips: ” Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” Are we able to repeat Job’s humble words without rebellion: ” The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be his name!” God works differently. He does not change everything according to our wishes, He does not roll out the red carpets. He simply walks with us as the true Emmanuel – God with us. Walks with us through the rocky paths of our lives, similar to us in all things except sin. Jesus knows our lives: knows the salty taste of sweat while working , knows the joy of a wedding party, knows the pain of the death of a friend, knows hunger and tiredness, knows the fear of running away from the more powerful, knows the bitterness of betrayal by those closest to him, knows the rejection by the majority, knows the horror of dying, knows the loneliness of death…   We shudder at the thought of words on the Cross becoming our own: ” My God, why have you forsaken me”?   We know and remember these words, but we would probably prefer not to remember and witness them. And we would certainly prefer to be spared such an experience ourselves. May God do something, after all we are His children!                       Since we are His disciples, we cannot avoid the cup of bitterness; if we want to have eternal life, we must one day meet death….  However, we can be sure of that: If we are willing and invite Him to join us, then no matter who we are, no matter where we are, He – Emmanuel will always walk with us through life to eternal life.

Can we stop asking: why me? why not otherwise?, but rather together offer up this prayer, which is probably the best known, and which each of us has known since childhood: Father…      We forget the most important thing…, so Thy kingdom come.                                                   We often choose wrongly … so Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….We fear and choose the wrong way and wrong things .. so do not allow us to lead us not into  temptation, but deliver us from evil…     Give us the strength to always be able to speak these words with our lips and our hearts.