Grace to you!
Our reflection today is on prayer. It is drawn from one of the most fascinating stories in the Old Testament that describes in a dramatic way the power of prayer. Jacob, one of the two sons of Isaac, desperately in need of divine intervention for reconciliation between him and his brother Esau, and fearing for his life, had one chance to make things right and he did.
He sent some gifts ahead of his brother as a way of winning his favor; and while the gifts were on the way, Scripture says: "And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day" (Gn 32:24).
This verse unpacks some attitudes we should adopt at prayer. Prayer is an alone moment with God. During those moments of quiet and introspection, we can easily see things in a new light and attune our hearts to the right person whose help can change our situations or make things clearer for us. God is that person. Alone with God is always a beautiful disposition in prayer.
During the recent National Black Catholic Congress, which ended a couple of days ago, an actor shared how he discovered himself and God's unique calling in his life when he entered a Catholic Church and felt the kind of silence he never felt all his life. As a politician and a popular council member in his city, he was engrossed in activities (activism). With people pulling him from one place to another, he felt he needed some quiet. He said that even in his previous church (he was an evangelical), he felt it was too noisy.
One day, sick and tired of the fatigue of noise and flamboyant self-attention, he was passing by a Catholic Church and was drawn to see the inside. As he stepped into the church, he claimed to find the kind of silence that forces one to think deeply about one’s life. “God was in that silence,” he said. That was how his conversion to the Catholic Church started; and in a year, he became a Catholic.
Silent moments with God are powerful. Recall the story of Elijah when he was running away from Ahab, Jezebel and the prophets of Baal and how he found God in the gentle breeze (1 Kings 19:11-13). It is a similar picture of how silence enhances a private conversation with God.
This doesn't mean we can't encounter God in the clashing of the wind or a noisy situation. It means silence has a powerful way of leading us to true self discovery and insight in a way a noisy world hardly could offer.
Cardinal Sara reflected on the power of silence in his award winning book, The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise. It is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.
So when alone, Jacob wrestled with a certain man he understood as God's angel. Pay attention to Jacob’s wrestle (prayer) intention: "I will not let you go, unless you bless me" (Gn 32:26).
This is the prayer of someone who is in dire need of help and who realizes that an opportunity of grace must not slip by without capitalizing on its grace-moment. He maximized the moment of grace, praying when he needed it most. God answered his prayers and gave him a new name; from Jacob (meaning supplanter, ouster—synonym could be trickster or a con) to Israel, (prince with God or may God prevail), a name that will come to point to the new children of God, the children of the promise.
May I ask: When in need, do we remember to look up to God? In those moments, worries want to force us into our rooms, crawling in our bed and covering ourselves with the blanket of depression, not wanting to do anything or see anybody, except maybe getting drunk or high on drugs to escape our worries—all ways that make us feel worse in the end—do we remember to call to God in those alone moments and pray, "Lord save me. Bless me?"
Prayers are a far better answer to our worries than liquor, weed or pills. Scripture says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you…” (Ps 55:22A)."
God love you. God bless you
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Week Fourteen A: Gn 32:23-32; Mt 9:32-38]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.