In today’s gospel reading we get two for one. Matthew wraps one miracle story within another miracle story. The official receives his daughter back from death, and the bleeding woman (considered impure and therefore she had to stay on the outside) is healed and restored to her family. Jesus acts quickly, gently and compassionately on behalf of these two suffering adults. I would expect nothing less. The heart of Jesus, overflowing with compassion, moves him to action. These brief nine verses that contain the stories are wonderful, exciting and inspiring. But I find myself asking: Why doesn’t Jesus respond to my petitions just as quickly?
At times I feel like Jacob sleeping on a rock, a rather uncomfortable pillow. If only God would answer my questions or respond to my petitions, I would have peace of mind and heart. Yet many questions remain unanswered and petitions seemingly lost in space. Why? People are quick to give an answer. You don’t have enough faith; you don’t ask in the correct way; you are not persistent; your prayer is too selfish; if God responded it might have negative effects on other people; etc.
We believe that God hears our prayers. “The Lord will hear when I call unto God.” Jesus told his apostles: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” That is the basis of our Prayers of the Faithful at Mass. We place our cares in the hands of God, hands strong and large enough to hold any of our concerns. We surrender our need to figure out how and when God will respond as we speak our prayer to the Lord. Now it is time to give thanks to God who loves to listen to us. In gratitude we can sleep peacefully at night.
Father Don Webber, C.P., resides in Chicago.