Shortly before I left the house this morning, I received a text that I needed to be at a meeting immediately after Mass, so I planned to say my Rosary and other devotions after work. And shortly before I headed down to the chapel, I received word that my former co-worker has taken some major steps backward. I also saw on my personal cell phone, which I do not carry on my person at work, that I had several text messages from other former co-workers begging me to pray.
"We're desperate" someone wrote.
As happy as I am that people are turning to prayer, how I wish they would pray themselves. I have no power to do anything for anyone. None of us do. What I have is a strong faith and a willingness to rely on some very powerful intercessors. That's a lot, but it's also nothing, as in on my own, I can do nothing.
Today's Gospel dovetails perfectly (for me at least) with some of the comments I got in return when I assured people I am praying but that they should do some praying of their own.
"You pray all the time. God will listen to you because you're a practicing Catholic and I'm not."
"God is more likely to listen to you than to me because I haven't prayed for a long time."
As much as I loathe these comments, they provide an opportunity, the chance to assure people of God's infinite love and mercy for all of us. He doesn't play by the same rules we do. There is no getting even. There is no conditional concession to our prayers. There is no "well, you were mean to Me and ignored Me for years, so you don't deserve the same reward as those who have been faithful to Me from the start." He is as delighted to see my Caitlin, who can't be bothered to go to Mass anymore (again!) as He is to see Rebecca, who is faithful to Him in all things. It matters not how late we arrive.
Sometimes, I bypass the intercessors and go straight to the Source.
After my Rosary and chaplets, I decided to speak heart to Heart with Jesus.
"Dear Lord, please restore this man to good health. So many people are pulling for him. I am afraid they will turn away from You if you do not spare his life."
"Then you must pray that they will have the grace necessary to accept what I will".
The crucifix in the chapel is very prominent, with the Lord's arms in full extension on the cross. When I'm feeling low, I like to think His arms are extended in an embrace of love meant to console us in our suffering. And when I contemplate His posture on the cross, I know I am speaking to a compassionate God Who knows first-hand the value of suffering. May He allow others to realize it as well.