2 Timothy 4:1-8
Psalm 71:8-9, 14-15ab, 16-17, 22
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
Reflection for Saturday: How to find what you’re seeking from God
What is it that you’re seeking from God? Do you know that, if it’s good and God doesn’t have a better plan, you already have what you seek? It often takes time for it to be revealed and understood, but God has already granted it.
Most of us don’t have the level of faith that makes waiting for the answers to our prayers a joyful, peaceful time. That’s because we don’t fully trust God.
When you’ve cried over unanswered prayers, who did you blame? For most of my life, I blamed myself. God could not possibly be at fault. He was perfect. He was all-good. He loved me unconditionally. So I worked hard at my spiritual growth. I wanted to have faith that was at least the size of a tiny mustard seed. Apparently, according to Jesus, only a little bit of faith is enough to move mountains. “Nothing would be impossible for you,” he said (see Matthew 17:20).
During my young adult years, after a major conversion experience in which I recommitted myself to Christ, people told me about miracles they received. However, when I prayed for miracles, nothing happened. “It must be me,” I thought. “Something’s wrong with my faith.” I was so sure of this that when others came together to pray for anything amazing, I left the room afraid that my lack of faith would prevent them from receiving what they asked from God.
Determined to find my way into the mustard-size faith that can move mountains, I immersed myself in scripture studies, prayer groups, parish events, and anything else that seemed faith-building. Many good fruits came from this daily effort, including a few answered prayers, but not enough. Faith had to be better than this!
Deep down, when we try and try but fail to have the kind of faith that gets results from our prayer requests, we don’t really blame ourselves. We blame God. He is, after, all, way more powerful than we are. He can make miracles happen despite our less-than-mustard-seed faith.
This raises terrible questions, such as: Has God abandoned me? Is he ignoring me? Does he care about others more than he cares about me? We ask because we feel abandoned, ignored, and uncared for, and we don’t want to believe that God would do that to us.
This leads to many tears. One day as I cried because I felt ignored by God, an image of a cardboard box came to mind. It wasn’t a very big box — about the size of a microwave oven. I wondered what might be in it.
“You’ve put Me in a box,” I heard in my own inner voice, but I knew it was not my voice. “You’ve been limiting Me. You see me as less than I Am. Open the box and let Me out.”
Gladly! I visualized the lid of the box open up and imagined God escaping from it and expanding larger and larger until he filled the universe.
This began a life-long quest to unpack who God really is and what he is really like. God as a loving, doting, perfect Father who desires more than I do for my prayers to be answered. God as the infinite, unlimited Father. God as the Father who solves my problems and lifts me up above them.
In the parishes where I’ve worked in adult faith formation and through Good News Ministries, the Catholic faith-building ministry that my husband, Ralph, and I founded in 1995, I’ve made it my goal to help people meet the real Father. Everywhere, I see the need for spiritual healing that comes from perceiving God as less than he is.
We limit the size of our faith by projecting onto God the imperfections we’ve witnessed in the humans around us. In each person’s heart are tears for Abba that come from instinctively expecting human parents, clergy, and other authority figures to be as good as the Divine Father. But because no one — not even the best of parents — can be God for us, we yearn to be fathered by him, and at the same time we have a hard time seeing him as more than what we have witnessed.
Furthermore, fatherhood has been severely undermined in society, diluting people’s understanding of the True God. The world today desperately needs to be converted to Christ, but our power as Christians to change the world for Christ is weakened by our own distrust in God the Father.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica