August 7, 2011

Why Pray?

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Matthew 14: 22 – 3

One of the activities we do in Ateneo is the “Trust Walk.” In this activity, each participant is blind folded and asked to walk under the guidance of a companion. We realized it is easier to walk when guided by someone whom we know well than by a total stranger. The voice of a good friend gives us the confidence that everything will be fine.

Our gospel today is a classic example of trust walk. When Peter learned that it was Jesus walking on the water, he said, “Lord, if it is you, allow me to come to you.” And Jesus said, “Come.” Although Peter could not clearly see Jesus, his voice was enough to encourage Peter to walk on water. Faith is indeed connected to our ability to hear God’s voice. The more we listen to God, the more we gain trust and confidence. Unfortunately, in our present world where noise is part of our life, we are slowly losing our capacity to keep quiet and listen to God.

People nowadays are so busy and distracted with many things. We are multi-task human beings; we do many things at the same time, but lost our focus in the process. Like a machine, we can accomplish many things, but the quality of our relationships suffers greatly, especially our relationship with God. We go home exhausted from daily work, but no sense of fulfillment. We excel in different fields and praised by our colleagues, but no inner joy and satisfaction. Many of us are simply tired, discouraged, or almost dead inside. We have lost our simple joys, spontaneity, and peace. We have lost the depth and breadth of our Christian life. We don't like this feeling of "sinking" but we are. Like Peter, distracted with many worldly concerns, we cry out for help, “Lord, I am sinking! Help me!”

The only way to regain ourselves is to pray again. Prayerful people could hear God in their prayers. The deeper we pray, the more we see God in all things. Our first reading tells us how God revealed Himself to Prophet Elijah. God did not reveal Himself in the strong wind, earthquake and fire, but in the tiny whispering sound. In our present society where everything must be loud, dramatic and grand to win our attention, the God who reveals Himself in silence loses in the competition. If we want to hear God, we need to pause and pray silently.

It is simply absurd to say that we don’t have time to pray. To pray is a decision compelled by our love of God. Even the busiest person can still drop his work and do something urgent and important. Unfortunately, we don’t see the necessity and urgency of daily prayer in our life.

Why pray? When you look at the gospel today, it is Jesus who did the seeking, and not the disciples. When we pray, we create a space and allow God to seek and find us. And when God finds us, He gives us the grace of serenity to face our storms in life. An unknown author defines the meaning of serenity…

To walk when everybody is running
To whisper when everybody is shouting
To sleep when everybody is restless
To smile when everybody is angry
To pause when all are in a hurry
To pray when all are in doubt
To think when all are confused

Fr. Roque Ferriols,SJ shared something about God who constantly looking for him when he celebrated his 70th year as a Jesuit:

“Seventy years ago, I joined the Society of Jesus. I thought I was beginning a lifetime looking for God. But it was given me to know that throughout my lifetime, God has been looking for me. With infinite tenderness, patience, and with great humility, God has been looking for me. God is humble. He waits for me to allow him to find me. Yet in the mystery of his grace, I need his grace to be able to allow him to find me. I have to pray: Lord, grant me the grace to allow you to find me.

As a novice and later as a scholastic, when they sang the Office of Tenebrae during Holy Week, I was always thrilled when they came to the verse: "Bonum est praestolare salutare domini in silentio." "It is good to wait for the saving help of the Lord in silence."

- Fr. Wilfredo M. Samson,SJ
St. Joseph Parish, Zamboanga City

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Fr. Willy,

    Good to have met you in the retreat last week. Thanks for the inspiring sessions.