One of the gifts in my life is my service commitments at St Joseph is as a Lector. I love being able to proclaim the Word of God at Mass. I am learning so much because I am required to prepare, to practice and to think about what the message Holy Mother Church is sending during the Liturgy of The Word.
Today I got to read from the Book of Genesis. It is the story of Abraham's pleading with The Lord, asking Him about sparing Sodom.
I have a lot of friends who do not like Holy Scripture. They read it and get discouraged. One of them sees this particular story as an example of how God cannot be trusted, how it is necessary to bargain with God and to try and get Him to do what is right.
That is not what The Church proclaims today, and I know this because this reading is put together with the Psalm 138 (Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me), part of the letter from St Paul to the Colossians (you have been brought to life, the old way has been nailed to the cross) and then the beautiful Gospel of St Luke, where Jesus actually teaches us that gorgeous prayer that begins, "Our Father, who art in heaven".
I got to read out loud Abraham's interaction with God. A few things come to mind for me:
Abraham approaches the Lord with all respect and humility, but with confidence.
Abraham never gives up - he talks to God as a child talks to a Father.
Abraham knows that he is being heard - he trusts that what he says to God is being listened to and considered.
Abraham does not know what God's answer will be - he prays and asks, but he never takes it for granted that asking means getting. He is not immature. He is a man.
And finally - I believe that Abraham is making a little bit of a promise by asking God to spare the place if there are good people still living there. I think Abraham is saying to God, "Are you willing to give them a chance to affect a change?".
The underlying question is, "Can You trust, Lord, that the people living in the area mired in sin can change that culture? Will you boost them, Lord, instead of just destroying the place?".
The other message that comes through for me today is that there is never TOO much prayer. You cannot ASK God for help TOO MUCH. Yes, you need to praise Him and thank Him but He is not going to be angry if you are always asking Him to help those who need help.
You know why?
I think it is because He wants us to have an outward focus. He wants us to see beyond OUR own wants and needs and think about the bigger picture. Sure, I might be lonely or sick or tired or wishing I was taller or something but if I am going to make all my prayers about ME then I am going to be so damn introspective as to become unaware of what my purpose is in the world.
My purpose in the world is to be of maximum service to God and to my fellow human beings.
Each day has to be approached with that purpose in mind. Every examination of conscience at the end of the day has to ask two questions: did I stay sober and did I do my best to help?
Today I can admit that I do not always make the second part of my purpose a reality. It is my goal, but I often fall short. I let my own aches and pains or emotional upheavals get in the way and when that happens, I absolutely waste the time God has given to me to be the best that I can be, one day at a time.
I am so grateful for my service commitments today. I am so grateful that God gives me a chance to learn, to help and to be of service.