Posts Tagged ‘Trusting in God’

The Remarkable Power of Prayer

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Thursday of First Week of Lent (U)
Esth C: 12, 14-16, 23-25; Mt 7: 7-12
Dc. Larry Brockman

Prayer. It’s one of the three pillars of our Lenten observance. And it is the topic of both readings today. In fact, both readings are about asking for something in prayer. And both give us key advice about what kind of prayer works.

The story of Esther is fascinating. I recommend that all of you read the book of Esther- it is short. But let me just put today’s reading in context.

Esther is a beautiful Jewish maiden living in exile in Persia with the Jews. The King is smitten by her and makes her his Queen, not knowing that she is Jewish. Her Father gets on the wrong side of the King’s right hand man, a ruthless, arrogant, hateful person This man tricks the King into signing a decree that would put all the Jews to the sword. And that is where we join Esther this morning- as she prays for deliverance of her people.

Although Esther is the Queen, the King has a concubine and doesn’t see Esther all that often. She cannot approach him; he must approach her. Hence, her dilemma.
Notice several things about Esther’s prayer. First, Esther is giving her whole attention to her prayer. All distractions and everything else have been put aside. Second, she is humble before the Lord, prostrating herself and her entourage. Then she blesses the Lord and recognizes Him as the Lord of her ancestors. Only after all that does she ask for something. Lastly, she is not asking for a miracle- she is only asking for inspiration. She says ”Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion and turn his heart”. So Esther recognizes the need for her to act. She is asking God to enable her, not for God to work miracles. And we get the impression that she trusts that God will help her.

Esther’s prayer is answered, as you will find if you read the book. But the events that unfold are truly unexpected. There is no way anyone could have foreseen these events. God’s solution solves all Esther’s problems, and makes things better than she could have expected. And this makes a very important point. When we ask for God’s help, our expectations can get in the way. God will answer our prayer, but will not necessarily meet our expectations. God knows what is best for us and that is what he will give us. In the long run, we are better off with God’s solution and not our expectations.

Now the Gospel comes after Jesus presentation of the Lord’s Prayer. He explains the Lord’s prayer after presenting it. Then in this chapter Jesus goes into detail about when we ask for something. He tells us to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find.” But what will be given to us is what we need, not necessarily what we want. We are, after all, God’s children. We often respond to a child’s request with what they need, not what they want; And it is no different with God and his children.

It may seem to you that some specific expectation is the thing that is best for you- a home or place, a job, a promotion, a relationship with someone, a skill, and any number of other things. But when you pray for such things, keep an open mind. God may have a better place, a better job, another person, or a different skill for you. And in the long run, God’s way will be better.

God is big on trust. We tell our children the same thing- trust us. But sometimes that can be hard. Because, just like our children, we are disappointed that things don’t go our way even after prayer. But consider this: When Jesus says the law and the prophets is “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you”, then be assured of this. God will always do right for you, because He is beyond the law and the prophets.

Trusting in the Eternal Rock

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Thursday of First Week of Advent
Is 26: 1-6; Mt 7: 21, 24-27
Deacon Larry Brockman

“Trust in the Lord Forever! For the Lord is an eternal rock.” Now that’s the kind of foundation we should all seek for our lives. It’s the kind of foundation Jesus is describing in his parable. It sounds very straightforward, doesn’t it? Trusting in the Lord and making God’s word our foundation.

But you know what? In the heat of the battle, we need to make decisions daily. And we are constantly confronted with uncertainties. It always seems that “It depends” and “it’s all relative”. But you see, in order to make good decisions in situations calling for discretion, our foundation just has to be rock solid, otherwise, we falter and don’t know what to do.

How do we make our foundation solid? Well, we not only need to know what is right and wrong, but we need to know them well enough to survive “it depends” and “it’s all relative” situations. And we need to know where we are going with our lives, and why. We need focus in order to eliminate our uncertainty.

Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We all learned that in school. So what we are really talking about is making God the foundation for our edifice, our whole selves. And we need to make decisions with both our head and our hearts, that whole self. So it’s not just knowing the word of God and what the Church teaches that constitutes our foundation. We also have to feel what is right and wrong from the depths of our being. That comes with intimacy with God. We not only need to know about God, but we need to know Him like a friend.

Sounds pretty demanding, building our foundation on the Lord, doesn’t it? That’s why Jesus said we need to act on his words. Acting on his words is not just listening; and it is not even limited to taking them to heart. It means more than that. It means making a permanent commitment to the Lord. We need to be tied to him as any house is tied to its foundation.

These readings are so appropriate because Advent is our opportunity to make a difference in how we live our lives each year as we prepare for the two comings of Jesus Christ. Yes, we are preparing for the coming of the Christ Child. And that is important because the incarnation, the fact that God sent His son to live as one of us in a human body, is what distinguishes Christianity from other religions. God became one of us and showed us the way to eternal life through the story of his life- the Gospel. We need to be ready to follow him and seek the Kingdom of God as our focus.

But we must also be ready for the second coming. That will happen for all of us at the moment of death. And that could come at any time. So we can’t waver from our path; we need an even more rock solid foundation to our faith for that. That comes from a close relationship with God : through our prayer life. It comes from putting God’s will first in our life. It comes from building our confidence that we know the right thing to do.

Let me suggest that we get off the high speed rail of life for a couple of weeks, and to use some time to firm up our foundations. Make a plan for the coming year to learn more about your Faith and your Lord. And then put it into practice. Let go and trust in God’s mighty hand in the years to come.

Yes, trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal rock.

“I Will Never Forget You”

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 49: 14-15; 1 Cor 4: 1-5; Mt 6: 24-34

Deacon Larry Brockman

“I will never forget you”. These are the Lord’s words to Zion this morning. And that’s each and every one of us- we are all part of Zion.

You know, it is really hard to conceive of just how much God loves each one of us. Each and every one of us was specially created by God. That means God thought about you, just you, and made you what you are. Each of us was given a unique set of talents, a unique body, and our own immortal soul. We are all one of a kind; there will never be another you.

And God loves all of us equally. Why would God create a being in his image and likeness that he didn’t love? God loved us so much he gave us a free will- so that we can determine our own destiny. But our main choice is whether we return to God or not.

Now we are even loved by God when we are sinners. In Luke’s Gospel, he tells a parable about the lost sheep. Yes, God goes after each lost sheep because he loves them. God is relentless in his pursuit of each one of us too. It’s that little voice in your conscience you hear all the time.

Realistically, all of us are sinners. It may be a matter of degree, but none of us is perfect. And if we feel that we are perfect, or close to it, we are deceiving ourselves. Part of the lesson of life is to realize that and to recognize and accept the suffering, disappointment, and imperfection that are part of life for each one of us. It’s part of God’s plan that we be tested and follow his script for dealing with our test. His script is the Gospel.

We also learn by recognizing that all the bad things that happen to our neighbors but for the grace of God can happen to us as well. Even when we are on a high plateau in our lives, it is all temporary; it can and probably will change. So, understand that God and God alone is under control. Humility is recognizing the truth of one’s status. And the fact is that no matter who you are, you are not in control. When you embrace that fact and all the uncertainty that it entails, then you will know and understand yourself better, and that is true humility.

Now I say all this because this morning our Gospel calls us to recognize that worrying is another limitation we have as human beings. We worry about our problems, our status, our future, and all kinds of things. But the fact is that we really don’t have control over the events of our life, God does. So, it is pointless to excessively worry about them. Just as we must accept that suffering and imperfection are part of every life, we also have to accept that excessive worrying over things makes no sense.

Because God loves you that means, as Isaiah remarked, that he will never forget you. If you really believe that God will never forget you, then the thing that each of us must do is to trust in God. That may be easier to say than to do. Just how do we trust in God that all of those things we worry about will be taken care of?

Well, that brings us to the topic of serving just one of two masters. In 19th century US politics there was a term called a Mugwump. A Mugwump had his “mug” on one side of the political fence, and his “wump” on the other. So, a Mugwump tried to play both sides of the fence at the same time. It was a derogatory term that accurately described people who tried to finesse the system. It just didn’t work.   Jesus is also telling us you cannot do that; you cannot have it both ways. You either belong to this world and the Master of this world, which is the devil and his followers, or you belong to Christ, and have a trusting relationship with God.

If you belong to this world, you attempt to be in total control of your life. You will determine how each need will be met; you will take care of yourself- even if it is at the expense of others. And you will depend on all of your abilities. It’s all up to you; you don’t need God. So when things don’t go your way, you will worry. And you will worry and worry.

Now you can try to be a Mugwump, and be in control yourself when things are going well. And then fall back on God when things go wrong. But my point is that it doesn’t work that way. It is all or nothing with God because God reads your heart. And if you have to always be in control, then you haven’t given your heart to him.

If you belong to Christ, then He is your master in this world. That means two things. First, you know God; you have a relationship with him. And like any special relationship that you have, you have to nourish that relationship often. That means you have a regular prayer relationship with God. You can hear him when he talks to you.

Second, you must learn to trust in God always. That means you share your successes with him, and your joy with him because you know God is the source of all blessings. So, you thank God as the source of those blessings- your family, your career, and whatever talents and good things you have. But you also share your sufferings, your worries, and your failures with him. You trust that, just as he helped you with your successes, so he will also help you when you experience things beyond your control.

After all, God has promised that he will never forget you.

Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands!

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Thursday of 12th Week of Ordinary Time

Gen 16: 1-12, 15-16; Mt 7: 21-29

Dc. Larry Brockman


Sarah took things into her own hands rather than trust in God.  And what a mess it made of things, too.  She reasoned that the Lord made her barren- it was His fault, and so, feeling sorry for herself and her husband, she takes matters into her own hands.  She does what almost all of us would think as unthinkable-  she sets her husband up with another woman so he would have an heir!  And that resulted in a sad chain of events characterized by pride and arrogance; and jealousy and abusiveness, to name just a few.   

In the Gospel, we hear about what it means to really know God.  As Jesus explains it, the real test about how well we know God is not how much we know about Him; neither is it how much we do in His name; rather, the real test is whether we are in tune to what the will of God is for us.  The story about Sarah teaches us the practical side of that. Because no matter how hard it is to understand, and no matter how difficult it may seem to be to do, the will of God is the best that can possibly be for us- always.  You see, the flip side of the matter; that is, taking matters into our own hands and trying to control life ourselves, will always result in a disaster because there are consequences that always happen when we run counter to God’s will.  In Sarah and Haggar and Abraham’s case, the near term consequences were described for us and they were painful.  But, if you are familiar with history, then you know that the long term consequences of this incident plague us even today in the form of relations between Judeo-Christian and Moslem peoples.   

The sin here is not the relations between Hagar and Abraham.  That was actually an allowed custom in Abraham’s time.  Rather, it was a lack of patience and a lack of trust in God’s will.  Ironically, shortly after the Haggar incident in Genesis, the Lord appears to Abraham and guarantees that Sarah will bear him a Son.  So, patience and trust would have prevailed.

Still, this incident raises a question about discernment.  When, for example do we accept that God does not will something for us-  like having children or getting a job or having some special possession- so we can move on to something else versus continuing to wait for what we pray for in the joyful expectation that our prayer will still be answered?  Well, the advice Jesus gives us is this: build your foundation on solid rock.  In other words, focus on something that centers you and keeps you always on firm ground.  Having the right two way relationship with God means listening and waiting for His input back to you no matter how long it takes.  So being patient and trusting in God’s will is just such a foundation.   If you find yourself moving off in some other direction out of impatience or anger or frustration or any other such negative reaction, then it is probably not God’s will for you. 

You can avoid the turmoil that happened in the story about Sarah and Hagar because when the rains come and the wind blows around you in your life, the events that set the consequences in your life, so to speak, you will be safe on your foundation- trust in God’s will for you.