Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Wednesday, June 27, 2010

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Here’s the Problem

Gen16_1 Sarai

Today, in Mercy, Abram and Sarai fall back into a struggle with God’s promise. God tarries with fulfillment and has not yet removed Sarai’s barrenness. The aging couple become impatient.

So, as we all sometimes do when God appears deaf to our prayers, Sarai comes up with her own strategy, clearly outside God’s outlined promise. They will use their slave Hagar to bear Abram’s heir.

The passage doesn’t mean that we should not work hard to fulfill our lives. It isn’t intended to contradict that old wisdom:

Work as if everything depended on you.
Pray as if everything depended on God.

Or as St. Ignatius puts it in a more precise way:

I consider it an error to trust and hope in any means or efforts in themselves alone; nor do I consider it a safe path to trust the whole matter to God our Lord without desiring to help myself by what he has given me; so that it seems to me in our Lord that I ought to make use of both parts, desiring in all things his greater praise and glory, and nothing else.

What this reading does hold up before us is the quality of our faith, the depth of our relationship with God. 

  • Do I consider every aspect of my experience in the light of prayer, sharing it with God, listening for God’s voice?
  • Do I inform my spirit through scripture and spiritual reading, (with what I like to call “a holy culture”), so that I can trust my discernment and be patient for its fulfillment?
  • Do I seek the counsel and companionship of those who strengthen the resolve of my spirit?

Abram was making good progress with these stepping stones, then Sarai threw him a curve with the offer of Hagar as his concubine. But don’t just blame Sarai. Good old Abram caught the curve and ran with it!🙂

Life pitches us all a lot of curves. It can be hard to catch God’s Voice as the curve buzzes by us!

Let’s pray today to let this story teach us whatever we need to learn about our own faith, discernment, patience, and “holy culture”.

Music: I Can Hear Your Voice – Michael W. Smith

2 thoughts on “Here’s the Problem

  1. I’m reminded of a joke I heard from a priest during one of my Ignatian retreats. You probably heard the one about a sailor who survived the sinking of a ship but ended up staying afloat in the middle of the ocean by hanging on to a wooden beam. Well, as you probably heard, he looked up at the sky and cried out, “God, please save me!” In the following hours, three ships passed by, and on each occasion the captain offered to help bring him safely aboard. But the sailor refused, believing God would answer his prayer and deliver him. Time passed and the sailor finally lost all his strength and stamina before another rescue attempt could be made. As a result, he went down and drowned. When the sailor got to heaven, the first thing he did was ask God, “Why didn’t you rescue me? You promised to answer my prayers.” God replied, “I tried to save you three times, but on each occasion you refused to climb on board.” I’ve never forgotten St. Ignatius’ dictum.

    Liked by 1 person

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