Providence, Persistence, Prudence and Patience
October 8, 2015
Malachi 3:13-20b; Luke 11:5-13
Thursday of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time
I recently have had to deal with some unanticipated health issues. After sharing them with family, friends and the Capuchin fraternity, I was really overwhelmed by the number of people who have let me know that they’re praying for me.
In today’s gospel passage, Jesus encourages his disciples to count on God’s loving providence: “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened for you.” The words—“Ask,” “Seek” and “Knock”—are etched into the beautiful glass doors that help to usher visitors from the Creation Garden into the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit. They are a veritable invitation to the troubled, searching, hurting and hoping people that come for the Wednesday Blessing Service, confessions, counseling or a peaceful and quiet space in the midst of a city and lives that are far less so.
Over the years I have had an opportunity to join the other friars in reading and praying over the many petitions that people leave on the tomb of Fr. Solanus. Each day they cover the tomb like snow on a roof, and at the end of the day they are gathered and carried into the friars’ choir chapel to be lifted up to the Lord in prayer. They also cover a wide array of human hopes and concerns, from winning the lottery to finding a job, having a loved one return to the Church, or dealing with a terminal disease. People ask, seek and knock with slips of paper.
Jesus’ invitation to pray and trust in God’s goodness, care, generosity and justice also demands some prudence and patience on my part. Some of the people in today’s passage from Malachi had come to doubt whether prayer and striving to serve God were really useful. They couldn’t see where it paid off.
But God is more than a divine vending machine. Jesus insists that our Father will “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” So I’m challenged not to ask for stuff as much as for the Spirit to more carefully discern what I want and need, to be patient in times of trial, and to persist even when things aren’t happening the way I want or according to my timeline.
Those glass doors at the Solanus Casey Center are quite heavy. They take some time and effort to open. There’s probably a message in that, too.—JC