There are some people who mistakenly interpret a passage in today’s Gospel that says Again truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. This verse is often abused and people think that just because they agree on something it will be given. This is a simplistic interpretation of this verse. St Chrysostom gives four reasons why God does not give us what we ask:
- We ask for something that is not helpful. If we ask for something that will harm us, God will not give it to us.
- We do not do our part. While everything is grace, we must do our part.
- We ask for vengeance. Since we are children of God, we should also desire the good of others.
- We seek mercy for sinners who have not repented. This past few years, there is wide attention given to mercy. But mercy is given only when there is repentance. We cannot ask God to forgive if we do not repent.
This is very clear in the First Reading. God told Ezekiel, Jerusalem will suffer the consequence of rejecting God. While they worship God, they do so thinking he is one of the many gods. This is also a warning for us that we may think we are worshiping God, but when we worship other gods, or put other things, like our jobs, our career, our families, this is also worshiping other gods. We worship whatever we put first in our lives.
The Psalm reminds us: who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? No one is like God. We bow to no one and serve only the God and Father of Jesus Christ and no one else.
St Frances de Chantal was married and had four children. Her husband was accidentally killed in a hunting expedition. She heard Francis de Sales, at that time a bishop, preached and he became her spiritual director. She wanted to enter a convent but was persuaded to hold off that decision. Later on, after providing for her children, she set up a religious order called the Congregation of the Visitation. Since our topic is on prayer, here are some quotes from St Frances de Chantal:
- With God there is no need for long speeches.
- There is no danger if our prayer is without words or reflection because the good success of prayer depends neither on words nor on study. It depends upon the simple raising of our minds to God, and the more simple and stripped of feeling it is, the surer it is.
- Follow your own way of speaking to our Lord sincerely, lovingly, confidently, and simply as your heart dictates.