Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr
> Genesis 17:1,9-10,15-22
In the first reading at today's Mass we conclude the story of Abraham and Sarah's promise of new life.
"When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said: 'As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai; her name shall be Sarah. I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her. Him also will I bless; he shall give rise to nations, and rulers of peoples shall issue from him.'"
Whew ... finally ... this one's been a long time coming. After years of waiting, Abram (who o' by the way gets a new name today as God renames him Abraham meaning "Father of Nations"), finally hears the coveted words from the Lord himself: he will have his own son from Sarah's womb. His lineage will continue. His blessing will unfold. God has come through on His promise.
However, the story of Abraham and Sarah isn't just about their son (Isaac). It's not simply about the promise of blessing or descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky. The story is not about the destination ... it's much more about how they got there. The story of Abraham is about the process.
From the very first conversation with the Lord, Abraham has had to trust. He's been stretched. He's been tested. He's failed and been forgiven. He's surrendered and taken back control. He's come to know the Lord, and therein has come to know himself. In the process of receiving the covenant Abraham not only received a son from Sarah's womb, he grew in relationship with the Lord along the way. That's important, because the process of growth will continue. Abraham will have mysterious visitors who reveal the very God Himself (chapter 18). He will stand before the Almighty and beg on behalf of Sodom (chapter 18), only to see his brother's land destroyed under the power of God (chapter 19). He will be tested to sacrifice his beloved Isaac (chapter 22). Through it all God is giving birth to a chosen people.
Today's story is good news, very good news. Our spiritual lives are much more about the process as they are anything else. Far too often I want the answer. I pray and I ask for "this" or "that". I want the blessing, I want the answer. While I'm looking for the answer God is moving in the process. God is focused on relationship. God is focused on me who eventually receives the gift. While I'm focused on what I want, God is focused on the process so that I am eventually able to receive the very thing I asked for.
This week we've asked some really honest questions. Monday we admitted that we often doubt God. Wednesday we acknowledged that we doubt because we grow weary of when God is going to act. Yesterday we unpacked our expectations fed by our doubt. All this week we've talked about why we grow impatient with God when we're focused on what we want. Yet all week long we've talked about the process of how we come to receive what we want.
How long have you been waiting for your prayer to be answered? However long its been I bet you've been waiting for God to finally do something. Truth is this: God's been active from the very moment you first asked. In the process He's been doing something in your life, in someone else's life, or in the circumstances therein. And, perhaps there's a lot that He had to do in order for you to receive. Or, perhaps there is still more He has to do before you receive.
Until your prayer is "answered" trust that God is in the process. Instead of begging Him to do something, ask Him what He's already doing. Ask God to show you how He's active in the process Ask God to show what He's doing in you in the process. Ask God to show you the blessings in the process.
© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013
Today @ IPF:
The 169 seminarians in the Seminarians Summer Program continue with their morning class, "Celibacy and Sexuality." Today the men will learn more about the dynamics of inner healing, as well as the role of forgiveness in inner healing.
The 22 priests and seminarians here for the 30-day retreat will conclude their 3-day orientation for the Spiritual Exercises. Today the men will conclude their introduction to the dynamics of spiritual consolation and spiritual desolation. The retreat, and its silence, begin tonight. Day 1, the first full day of the retreat, is tomorrow, Saturday.
Today's Quote from Pope Benedict XVI:
"Hope is practiced through the virtue of patience, which continues to do good even in the face of apparent failure; and through the virtue of humility which accepts God’s mystery and trusts him even at times of darkness."
― Deus Caritas Est, no. 39