May 21, 2016
My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back,
he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death
and will cover a multitude of sins. Today's first reading.
There was a guy who wanted to win the lottery so bad. He did not have bad intentions though, he just wanted to have it easy and also wanted to help out others with the money he was going to win. He was very committed to his prayer life, every day he would go and pray beneath the crucifix, for many years he never missed a day of mass. Every day he asked for the same thing: to please win the lottery. One day Jesus who all these years had been listening to his deep prayers got tired , not because of his prayers, but because this guy in all these years had never even bought a lottery ticket…so Jesus himself ask him to please at least do this.
What would you do if today I become this guy and ask you to pray for me to win the lottery? What if someone asks you to pray for something you know is not rooted in real love or that leads to no grace at all?
Recently a friend of mine asked me to pray for a specific intention, much more profound than the story above (it was told as a joke by a great priest looong time ago) and in a few words I said NO! I said I was going to pray for this person but not for that specific intention as I considered this petition similar to praying for someone to win the lottery knowing that he may never buy a ticket. It may sound like the number 1 thing on list of what a catholic jerk would say to you, and for some reason as I was called all things but a good catholic I was fine with it. Unfortunately we are becoming an over-sensitive catholic world where being truthful to our own Church's exhortations can be a reason for scandal sometimes. Why? We expect people to be nice to us the way we want it, thus misunderstanding goodness. We have come to believe that all nice actions are good, when “nice” is not even a virtue (even pro-choice people are nice).
I hope we never reduce Christ to just a nice guy from the Bible, there is reason many disliked him, and this was because he always defended the truth in light of the common good of humanity. Today’s first reading is beautiful, it talks about prayer and the common Good. Sometimes we let our prayers and actions run like wild horses, they may be powerful and intense but we must direct them correctly in order for them to be effective. This is the reason why we need to identify the common good of things so that we don’t become mere NICE Catholics afraid of proclaiming the truth, which sometimes must undergo many things that are not a hundred percent nice, but a million times good.
But what is common good? … Of course a good that is common (genius!). It is the goodness that we all share, and the goodness that we all desire. Thus our common good must be God, for we all share the same God and we all desire God among all things in our life. Understanding this common good is what marks the difference between a nice person and a good person. It is true that we have to be charitable with one another, but as Pope Benedict XVI once echoed in his Caritas in Veritate, charity does not mean we cannot reason, we need to be smart when it comes to charity so that we don’t waste our time in actions or prayers with magical intentions just look nice in front of others. In interceding and being prayed for, we must have God as an end, as the cause which brings forth the greatest possible grace to ourselves and others.
AT LEAST BUY THAT LOTTERY TICKET!!! Cooperate with Jesus, be smart when you pray and be smart when you ask for prayers. Our common goal must always be God, and all things we do will become a prayer, hence the importance of always praying with true discernment, loving with true passion, and hoping with true conviction... only then we would live with true devotion and intercede effectively for others!
St. John the Baptist, voice in the desert.
Pray for us!