Saturday, October 24, 2009

30th Sunday, Year B (Gospel: Mark 10:46-52) 'What do you want me to do for you?'

Imagine for a minute if at one time in your life before you die, the Lord himself appeared to you and asked you one question: the question is this: ‘what do you want me to do for you?’ What would you ask him? Maybe it would be a cure for a physical illness, or for someone you know. Maybe it would be to resolve a difficult situation to be sorted out, like a marriage that’s in trouble or maybe for help for your children. Perhaps it would be for more faith.

I think I might ask God to give me more faith, faith to recognise what we already have been given. We ask for help all the time, we ask God to be present to us, we ask God to forgive and heal us… and He does, but we often don’t recognise it.

I believe that if I had greater faith to recognise what God has already given me, I would ask for very little else, because He has given us everything that we need. We would like to know that Jesus is close to us and looking after us: and He is. In the mass he becomes present in the bread and wine, through the priest, and we can take him into our own bodies. How much closer could we get to the Lord than to receive him into our own bodies? And we can receive him every day if we wish. We want to know that we are forgiven and we want to be healed. The Lord offers us this gift through confession, but we don’t often make use of it.

If we believe that he is the Lord of all things, who has made everything and who has power over everything, the One who will come to judge the living and the dead, then why on earth should we be afraid of any situation we encounter, or anyone, when we believe that God is so close to us? Why should we be afraid of the world or of anyone in it, when God is with us? In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, ‘So do not say, what are we to eat, what are we to drink, what are we to wear? Your heavenly Father knows all your needs. Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be given to you as well.’ (Mt 6.31)

How do we become more aware of this presence of God around us? Through prayer. That’s why Jesus spent so much of his time trying to teach people to pray, so that they would become aware of the reality of God with them and around them. When we pray, and give time to God and the things of God, we learn to recognise how much God is all around us, in everything we do, in everyone we meet. I always think it is lovely to see so many people dropping into the church here every morning, just for a moment; to be silent, or to speak to the Lord, or make a request. These are all different ways of praying, of being with God and simply acknowledging God’s presence. We talk about God sometimes as if God were the optional extra in our world. The truth is the other way around. We are the optional extra. God is there one way or the other, whether we acknowledge him or not.

I heard a priest say once, ‘if God isn’t in your money he isn’t in your life.’ In other words God must be in every part of our life, if He is there at all. Otherwise we are practical atheists. We can know that God is there but do absolutely nothing about him. That’s practical atheism. You know that your r next door neighbour exists, but if you never speak to him, or meet him, or bother with him he or she might as well not be there. That is practical atheism and there are a lot of practical atheists around.

If God is to be part of our life, we have to do something about it. That’s why we pray and come to the church and try to listen to God. We make space for him so that we can hear him. We pray in whatever way our life makes possible. Speaking to God in your car on the way to work; that’s prayer. Being aware of God in your home, even if it’s noisy, is prayer. Reading the word of God. Spending some time in silence. God has plenty to say, if we would listen.

I believe that the more we pray, the more we will recognise that God has already given us everything we need. He is deeply concerned about us. He wants to be in our money too. And God always answers us when we pray, but it may not be the way we expect.

Just to return briefly to the Gospel reading. Jesus said, ‘what do you want me to do for you?’ And the blind man asked for his sight back, and of course Jesus gave it to him. Why would he refuse him? And why would he refuse us either?

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