Patience With God

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 16, 2016)

Exodus 17:8-13

Psalm 121:1-8

2 Timothy 3:14-4:2

Luke 18:1-8

Imagine you are standing at the checkout counter at Wal-Mart patiently waiting for your turn. Your sweet, innocent little child is standing right next to you. The child then turns their head and gazes at all of the delicious, sugar loaded, chocolate covered heavenly treats right at their eye level. The loving child gently turns their head towards you and says, “Hey dad, can I have a candy bar? Dad, just one? Can I have some candy? Dad? Are you listening? I want a candy bar? Can I get one? Please? Pretty please? I’ll be good the rest of the day. Can I have some candy Dad?” To which you reply, “NO.” “Why not dad? Just one? Please can I have a candy bar? Come on…. It’s just one candy bar!” “FINE! But don’t tell your mother!”

This is the image that came to mind after reading today’s Gospel from Luke. In it, there is a dishonest judge that doesn’t really care about God or people in general. We then hear that a widow wants him to render a just decision against someone who did her wrong. The judge only decides to render his decision due to the lady’s annoyingly persistent pestering of him. He didn’t give a decision based on it being the right thing to do. No, he did it to get her to be quiet and leave him alone. Now, in my candy analogy, I’m NOT saying that anyone who gives their child a candy bar in the check out aisle of Wal-Mart is doing it to simply quiet their kid, I’m just saying…. Well, come to think of it, I am guilty of doing that in the past!

My point is this…. I think too often we act like the kid in the check out aisle or the lady in today’s Gospel when we are praying to God. We tell God what we want in our prayers and sometimes have the tendency to get impatient or annoyed when He doesn’t answer us immediately. Are we doing this because we think we know better then God or is it in hopes that God will get annoyed with us and grant us our prayer just to keep us quiet?

And that’s the problem. God is not a genie that is granting us 3 wishes. Oh how I wish He were sometimes! No. He is the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. He knows what is going to happen to each and every one of us. So when we offer up our prayers, we need to do it in faith that God hears us and has everything under control. And if we don’t get that $1 million lottery ticket, that new job or our sick friend that we’ve been praying for dies… know that there is some greater good to come of the situation no matter how dire it appears.

We get anxious and upset though because we can’t see the entire picture like the way God sees it. We live in the here and now. God lives in the infinite.

I have a priest friend that has been helping me through some recent struggles. He helped me realize that I get very anxious and upset when I focus on what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week or next month. You see… I’m trying to figure out how things are going to end, rather then focus on the here and now. He very clearly pointed out to me that in the “Our Father” we pray, “give us TODAY our DAILY bread.” Not our weekly or monthly bread. We are asking Him to give us the strength and the grace to get through TODAY. One day at a time.

So, you want to pay off a debt? Don’t ask, “How am I going to pay off this $5,000 credit card bill?” Instead think, “What expense can I cut out today which will free up some of my money.”

Want a better marriage? Don’t ask, “Where can I take my spouse so we can have a great vacation next year.” Instead think, “What little thing can I do today to show my spouse that they are the love of my life?”

You see, when we work on the here and now… the good days add up and eventually you’ll have a good week. Good weeks lead to a good month. And before you know it, you realize that God has been there all along, giving you the grace to get through your life one day at a time. What may have seemed impossible, paying off the debt, improving your marriage, suddenly then becomes possible…. All with the grace of God.

And when things don’t go smooth… when your have 4 good days then suddenly things fall apart on the 5th day… look to see what God could be saying to you in that moment. See what went wrong. Learn from it and make the next day better.

Thankfully, God doesn’t get annoyed with our prayers the way the dishonest judge got annoyed with the women in today’s Gospel. God can and will outlast us. So if we keep sending up the same prayer over and over again with no immediate answer, maybe it’s time to shift our thinking. Maybe God’s plan is bigger then our immediate need which, I realize, can be incredibly hard to accept sometimes.

So remember this… God made each and every one of you with a purpose. He wants you all to be loved and to return to Him after your mortal death. Your life here is temporary. Your life with Him is eternal. Trust that God has your best interests in the palms of His hands. Trust that God hears your prayers and is answering them in the way that they need to be answered according to His plans… not yours.

Focus on today.

Turn the anxieties of “tomorrow” over to Him.

Breathe, pray, keep focused…

and most importantly,

be patient with yourself and with God.


Evangelazation…More Than Knocking On Doors!

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 15, 2012)

1 Sam 3:3b-10, 19

1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20

John 1:35-42

For some reason, there is one word that tends to make Catholics cringe. One word that when we hear it, cold shivers go up our spine. And no it’s not tithing. The word…is EVANGELAZATION. Immediately we picture someone going door to door with their bible in hand asking people it they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Imagine, (knock, knock), “Hello?” “Hi, my name is Brian Wentz and I’m a Catholic. Did you know that Jesus named Peter the first Pope, that the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Jesus and that priests can forgive sins by the authority Jesus gave His Apostles? Would you like to sign up for RCIA and learn more?” Although I haven’t met any Catholics that have actually done this, I wonder if any would be willing to or if fear would paralyze them? Is this scary because we don’t like confrontation, don’t know our faith well enough to explain it or simply are too busy with our jobs, families and everything else we’re trying to juggle in life?

But…what if Our Lord asked us to do this? Would our response be different?

In today’s Gospel we read about the Apostle Andrew. He was a devout disciple of John the Baptist and tried to live a life according to John’s teachings. So when Jesus walked by and John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” it definitely caught Andrew’s attention and curiosity. Now Andrew could have sat there and said, “Hey look, the Lamb of God, cool.” Or he could have said, “You know, I’m too busy to go after that man and talk to him; after all, I’m comfortable right here.” Imagine if Andrew didn’t go after Jesus because he didn’t know enough about him to think it was worth his time!! But he didn’t do those things. He stood up and followed after Him.

Andrew then got to do something I would love to be able to do. He spent the entire night with Jesus. He had the chance to ask Jesus any question about anything. There was no need to look it up in the catechism or call the priest to ask what something meant, he got to ask the living God directly. Could you imagine what they talked about?? Could you imagine having the ability to do this?? Ask Jesus a question and hear the answer directly from His lips?? Apparently Andrew liked what he heard. The very next day he ran home in excitement. Andrew immediately went to his brother Simon and proclaimed, “I have found the Messiah! Let me introduce you to Him! Come with me!” When Jesus met Simon he said, ‘You are Simon; you will be called Cephas.” Hopefully you picked up on the fact that Simon, whom Jesus now called Cephas, is Peter, as in St. Peter our first Pope.

Statue of St. Peter outside of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome

Andrew was so excited about this new knowledge he gained from Jesus that he went out and evangelized his own brother. And we all know how critical family tends to be at times. Andrew evangelized the person who would become the first Pope! Think about it….the first Pope’s journey to Jesus started because his brother was not too scared, not too busy and not too ashamed to tell him about his new found faith in the Messiah.

There’s a new movement going on in Catholic circles. It’s called the “New Evangelization.” We as a Church are trying to get Catholics excited about our faith again. Excited to the point that, if need be, we would be willing to lay down our lives for our faith like so many of the Saints have done previously. We need to be reminded about where we came from, how we got here and to be able to understand our faith so that we can, as St. Peter puts it in his 1st Letter in the New Testament, “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” We have a rich faith founded by Jesus on His Apostles that has been passed down through 2,000 years. There have been many ups and downs throughout our history, but the very fact that the Catholic Church is still around after all these years is a sign that the Holy Spirit is with us. And remember, we are a church that would have faded away and gone nowhere if it were not for evangelization.

We may not be able to sit in a room with Jesus and have a conversation like He did with Andrew. But we do have a chance to sit quietly with Jesus in prayer. Better yet we can sit in quiet prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist, which the Catholic Church teaches is Jesus. We can sit is his presence and talk to him. I’ve heard some people say that prayer is too hard or that they don’t know how to pray. Prayer is easy. It’s just a conversation with God. Tell Him what’s on your mind and what you are struggling with. The hard part, is quieting our minds and mouths and listening for His response. It usually won’t come in the form of a bright neon sign. After all, that would not require much faith or patience on our part. So you have to pay attention to the little details of life with your eyes wide open and unclouded. We as a society need to stop being so busy that we leave no time for God. A friend of mine told me that the word busy (B.U.S.Y.) means Being Under Satan’s Yoke. Satan would rather you spend your entire day listening to the world rather than listening to God. The best way to hear God’s voice is to keep a healthy prayer life and live the Gospel message daily without sin clouding your view. That’s why frequent visits to the confessional for the sacrament of reconciliation can be so beneficial. It helps remove the cloud that skews our view.

Jesus is calling each and every one of us to tell others His story of salvation. Please don’t be too afraid, too busy or too ashamed of your Catholic faith to tell others. I’m not asking you to run out and start knocking on doors. I’m asking you to start living the Gospel more deliberately in your daily actions and to try and learn more about your Catholic faith. You never know, maybe the next person you end up evangelizing will turn out to be the next Pope.

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