Monday, August 13, 2012

Devotion for today: Seek ye first the kingdom of God, then ask for favors!

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 6: 30-34
“If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Scripture for reflection: Psalm 145:18
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

Saint Claude de la Columbiere tells us: Christ promised on behalf of His Father that He would give us everything, even the very smallest things. But He laid down an order to be observed in all that we ask, and if we do not obey this rule we are unlikely to obtain anything. He tells us in St. Matthew: Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice…. If then this is the order God observes in the distribution of His benefits, we must not be surprised if our prayers have so far been unsuccessful. I confess that I am often moved to pity when I see the eagerness of some people in giving alms, making vows of pilgrimage and fasting, or having Masses said for the success of their temporal affairs. I am afraid the prayers they say and get said are of little use. They should make their offerings and vow their pilgrimages to obtain from God the amendment of their lives, the gift of Christian patience, contempt for the things of the world and detachment from creatures. Then afterwards they could pray for return of health or success in business. God would then answer these prayers, or rather He would anticipate them; it would be enough to know their desires for Him to fulfill them. Until we have obtained these first graces, anything else may be harmful to us and, in fact, usually is so. That is the reason why we are refused. We murmur and accuse God of not keeping His promises. But our God is a Father of kindness who prefers to put up with our complaints and criticisms rather than stop them by gifts which would be fatal to us. (Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: the Secret of Peace and Happiness, Tan Publishing, 1980)

Prayer: Father in heaven, God of power and Lord of mercy, from whose fullness we have received, direct our steps in our everyday efforts. May the changing moods of the human heart and the limits which our failings impose on hope never blind us to you, source of every good. Faith gives us the promise of peace and makes known the demands of love. Remove the selfishness that blurs the vision of faith. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Morning Prayer: Liturgy of the Hours.)

My thoughts: I think we finally have an answer here as to why some of our prayers go unanswered. How many times do we say that we prayed and prayed for something and didn’t get it? We expected God to give us what we wanted simply because it is what we wanted. That is the sin of pride, because we are assuming we know what is best for our lives and for the lives of those we love. St. Claude points out so well that only one prayer is necessary: to ask God to free us from our attachments in this world, to help us set our eyes on those things which will bring us closer to Him, and to ask Him to do what is best for those we love and for us. We can’t lose if we stop writing the script and let the author of life take over. “Not my will but Thine be done.” St. Claude has it so right. God is our Father, and He is a good and loving Father, and good and loving fathers do what is best for the long-term well-being of their children. To simply give children their immediate desire is to be a foolish parent. To give children what will bring them lasting peace and happiness is the gift of true love. We know that God is love, so let us believe that all prayers are answered if we seek Him first, and pray in truth.

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