In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for "finding himself." If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence. - Thomas Merton
(Mt 7:7-12) Jesus said to his disciples:
“Ask and it will be given to you;
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.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
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.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law and the prophets.”
Today, Jesus reminds us of the need and power of prayer. We cannot understand our Christian life without being related to God, and in this relationship, prayer takes a central place. While we live in this world, we Christians find ourselves on a pilgrimage road, but our prayer gets us closer to God, opens up the door of his immense love and brings forward the Heaven delights. This is why, our Christian life is a constant request and search: «Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened» (Mt 7:7), says Jesus to his disciples.
At the same time, the prayer gradually turns a stone heart into a flesh heart: «As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!» (Mt 7:11). The best summary we can ask God can be found in Our Lord's Prayer: «Your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as in heaven» (cf. Mt 6:10). We, therefore, cannot ask just anything in our prayers, but something which is really for our own good. If nobody wants to hurt himself, we should not want any damage for others, either.
We, sometimes, fail to see God's concern for us, for we find our prayers seemingly unanswered or may even feel God does not love us. In such moments, it will do us good to remember this advice from Saint Jerome: «It is certain God gives to he, who asks, that he, who seeks, finds, and that he, who knocks, will be opened: It is clearly seen that he, who has not received, who has not found, who has not been opened, is just because he did not know how to ask, how to seek nor how to knock at the door». Let us, therefore, ask God, in the first place, to give us a loving heart just like that of Jesus Christ.
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.
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 – Today everyone is Irish even us Italians!