Thursday, February 10, 2011

Prayer may not change things for you, but it for sure changes you for things

“There are some people who, in order not to pray, use an excuse the fact that life is so hectic that it prevents them from praying. This cannot be…Prayer does not demand that we interrupt our work, but that we continue working as if it were a prayer…It is not necessary to always be meditating, nor to consciously experience the sensation that we are talking to God, no matter how nice this would be….What matters is being with Him, living in Him, in His will. To love with a pure heart, to love everybody, especially to love the poor, this is a twenty-four hour prayer.” -Mother Teresa on Prayer

Gospel text (Mk 7:24-30): Jesus went to the border of the Tyrian country. There He entered a house and did not want any­one to know He was there, but He could not remain hidden. A woman, whose small daughter had an evil spirit, heard of him and came and fell at his feet. Now this woman was a pagan, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. Jesus told her, «Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs». But she replied, «Sir, even the dogs un­der the table eat the crumbs from the children's bread». Then Jesus said to her, «You may go your way; because of such a reply the demon has gone out of your daughter». And when the wo­man went home, she found her child lying in bed and the demon gone.

Today, we see the faith of a woman that did not belong to God's chosen people, but trusted Jesus could cure her daughter. That mother «was a pagan, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter» (Mk 7:26). Pain and love bring her to insistently beg, ignoring scorn, delays or indignities. And she gets what she is asking for, as she «went home, and she found her child lying in bed and the demon gone» (Mk 7:30).

The Syrophenician woman is a good mother; she was begging something good («she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter») and she begged rightly («and came and fell at his feet»).

Our Lord wants us to use insistently the petition prayer or prayer of faith. There are, indeed, other kinds of prayers —meditation (i.e. the Rosary or Lectio Divina), contemplation (i.e. Eucharistic Adoration), worship (i.e.The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass), prayer of thanks—, but Jesus insists very much on our often using the petition prayer. Why? Many could be the reasons: because we need God's help to attain our greatest aim; because it expresses hope and love; because it is a clamor of faith.

In response to God’s love, it is important for us to humble ourselves before him and to put all our faith in him as the Syrophoenician woman in today’s Gospel does. The Syrophoenician woman has complete faith that Jesus can drive the demons out of her daughter. She humbles herself before him when she asks for only the leftovers of his blessings in saying, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”(Mk 7:28). Jesus cures her daughter because of these humble words. It is common for us to strive to be the center of attention, but Jesus shows us to do otherwise in the Gospel. In today’s Gospel, Jesus enters the district of Tyre as a sort of celebrity. Instead of calling for attention in this situation, he “wanted no one to know about it”. We should all follow this example and practice true humility before both God and God’s people.

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