A commonly heard story goes thus….
A small town had been “dry” for years.
>> i.e. ‘without any bars or consumption of alcohol’.
But some of the business people, decided to build a bar in that town.
The local Christian group were however alarmed and concerned at this latest development
>> They decided that they would have an all-night prayer to ask God to intervene.
Work on the construction of the bar, progressed right up till the week before opening…
…. when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground!
The owners of the bar, enraged, filed a case against the prayer group – to sue them in court.
>> They claimed that the prayers of the group was responsible for the destruction of their bar!
>> They claimed that the people in the church were ultimately responsible for the ruin of the building – either through direct or indirect actions or means.
The prayer group members however appointed a lawyer to defend themselves
>> They vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s devastation in its reply to the court.
The judge after the initial examination of the case stated thus:
“I do not know how I am going to decide.
But no matter how this case ends, one thing is clear:
>> It appears that we have some bar owners who believe in the power of prayer…
… but an entire praying congregation that does not!”
How true is not this the case, even in our lives?
>> People who are expected to be having more faith…
… often are seen to live a life of unbelief and distrust in God
>> People who are “inside” the praying circle and the group of faith…
… often have difficulties to simply trust in the power and workings of God
The Gospel of the Day presents before us an incident where this contrast is brought forth…
>> A group of people – the Pharisees – who were intellectually deeper in the scriptures and were expected to know more about the Messiah…
…. failed to recognize and acknowledge the Messianic Power of Jesus
>> The other group of people – simple and ordinary crowds – who followed Jesus and were effortlessly attracted to Him…
… publicly acclaimed and appreciated the mighty deeds of Jesus
The Gospel passage begins with the incident of a man – dumb and demoniac – who was brought to Jesus (Mt 9: 32)
>> When the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke ( Mt 9: 33a)
There were two reactions to this same incident: One was of marvel; the other was of contempt!
>> The crowds – simple and ordinary – who were attracted to Jesus “marvelled and said: ‘Never was anything like this seen in Israel'” (Mt 9:33b)
>> The Pharisees – knowledgeable and intellectual – who often looked to find loopholes in the ministry of Jesus and trap Him, said: “He casts out demons by the prince of demons” (Mt 9: 34)
The same incident – Jesus healing the dumb and demoniac man – was observed and experienced by two different groups…
…. but they generated contrasting reactions and divergent responses!
>> One of them marvelled; the other mocked!
>> One of them had found a reason to praise God; the other found a reason to deride Jesus!
Is this not the case, often , even in our lives too?
>> Very often is this not the phenomena seen with respect to prayer…?
>> People who go to Church seem to be believing less in the power and providence of God…
… people who stay away from pious devotions, often acknowledge the influence of the Divine!
>> People who go regularly to Holy Mass and the Sacraments, often live superficial lives…
… people who stay away, seek to live better and more honestly.
What does this mean?
>> Not that we should stay away from our pious actions, devotions and our activities of faith
>> Not that people who don’t display faith have more reasons to live a good life
But these are reminders and alarms from the Lord…
… to examine our life and activities of faith!
… to check whether my prayer life is actually translated to a living trust in God!
Do the prayers that I make and the devotions that I engage in:
>> Cause me to believe and trust in the providential power of the Lord, knowing that He works out all things for our good…
… or do they just remain mere lip-services and an exercise and custom that I go through, without having any effect on me?
Do the Sacraments that I participate in – especially the Holy Mass and Sacrament of Reconciliation:
>> Cause me to have a life-transformational experience, every time, and become moments to encounter the Living Lord and His mighty love in my life…
.. or do they become routine rituals and casual ceremonies that I go through, without allowing the Lord to cause any effect or change in me?
Do the sermons that I hear, the reflections that I read and the Bible and other books that I meditate…
>> Cause me to reflect on my life, examine my conscience and let go a life of sin…
… or do they merely become aids to help me give pointers for ‘powerful’ sermons and feel a sense of external satisfaction, without taking decisions to also live a life of holiness and sanctity?
>> It is our duty to know more about the Lord and learn deeper about the elements of our faith…
… but we also need to grow in our life of holiness and live the faith in our practical lives
>> It is our duty to understand Scripture more and know learn about the Church and her teachings…
… but we also need to allow the Scripture ‘to read our lives’ and to help to love, spread and defend the Church and her teachings to others.
Which group of people are we in…
>> “Knowing theoretically much about the power of God and scriptures” but failing to recognize and acknowledge His power…?
>> Or simple and ordinary in our faith and belief – seeking to know more about God and scripture- but above all, recognizing, acknowledging and thanking the Power of God in life?
God Bless! Live Jesus!