Reflection for Wednesday, September 1, 1999: 22nd week in Ordinary Time.

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Wirth, Eileen
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If you're a certified member of the Worriers Club of America, today's readings are for you!||In the passage from Luke, we see Jesus doing what we worriers often wish God would do more often. He responds directly and concretely to requests for healing - right on the spot. No wonder people believed in Him.|Wouldn't that be great instead of what we go through every day? We send up our petitions and wonder if anyone is listening, let alone responding.|"Please God, help me get an A on this test." "Please God, help me get this job." "Please God, keep the kids safe this prom night."|By mid-life, most of us have suffered at least a few traumas where storming heaven with petitions seemingly did no good. We've learned that despite our prayers, kids get in car wrecks and people die of cancer. Crazy people shoot kids at their day care centers or high schools.|It would be awfully nice if Christianity offered us a God who would do what we asked on demand. Unfortunately, it doesn't.|That's why I liked the reading from St. Paul so much. It offers as much of an answer as we are likely to get to the fact that God doesn't operate like some kind of a celestial customer service center handing out favors to those who ask. Nor does he safeguard us from the traumas of life that comes from relating to people we love.|Paul reminds us that hope is at the center of our Christian belief. God may not answer a prayer in the way we wished - but we may see later that He did answer it.|About 10 years ago, I prayed very hard that a small business that some friends and I started would be a big success. It wasn't. Instead of becoming fabulously wealthy, I was barely making ends meet. I practically jumped at the opportunity to leave the business and teachat Creighton - a position I have loved.|I've often thought how fortunate I am that God didn't answer my original prayer the way I prayed it or I would have missed the most satisfying work I've ever done.|This example is lovely because everything worked out so neatly. Unfortunately, even an optimist like me knows this isn't always the case. I'm still struggling to come to terms with one horrible week several years ago when we lost two friends to cancer. One was 16, the other 41 with three children.|It's awfully hard for those of us who worry and stew and like to control things to let go and let God take over, trusting more in His way than ours. It's counter-intuitive to the way we worriers tend to live. We take safe jobs with good benefits and invest in blue chip stocks. We buy conservative cars, eat healthy diets and exercise regularly. We do everything we can to keep ourselves and those close to us out of danger.|Yet we too often learn that our efforts to control things are futile. My dear friend who died leaving her three kids was a nurse who did everything right but no one knows what causes ovarian cancer and it's very hard to cure.|In many ways, we have little choice other than giving into despair but to grasp the hope that St. Paul offers. We struggle on somehow in the belief that when things are at their worst, they will eventually get better.|We may not get an A on the test or the job we sought or the diagnosis we prayed for but somehow, we'll make it. We'll cope with whatever happens even when it's awful because we always have hope.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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