Peace and grace to you!
One of the things that strikes me about this weekend’s Gospel and reading from James is the way we pray. I get to talk with a lot of people about a lot of different things but one theme that is mentioned frequently is what we pray for. We also ask each other to pray for us and our intentions.
St. James’ letter mentions a lot of the kinds of things that we can expect to encounter in the world and we’re not surprised by it. But James hits closer to home when he asks “where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?” He then identifies that a lot of our conflicts come from our passions. Individual passions cause conflict within the person and left unchecked, can bring disturbance and conflict into relationships. The real root of evil is contempt toward another person. That’s the way sin is.
As disciples of Jesus, we all want to feel important (and we are!), we all have something to give and sometimes we have a very strong desire that things always go the way WE WANT.
Many methods are employed in getting what we want. Some of us do well at peacefully negotiating through open dialogue and listening, which is the best because there is unity and peace.
Other times however, more aggressive and unhealthy means are used, anger, triangulation, gossip, manipulation and withholding information (to name a few) are the methods used and these are obviously problematic because it’s vicious behavior.
James tells us that God is present to help us in everything but we have to ask. We are also informed that we need to know how to ask God for help!
In the Gospel, the disciples are engaged in debating who is the greatest and consequently who is going to get to say how things go. Jesus reminds them that their role is to be servants. The child Jesus points to shows us an image of straight forward simplicity and trust—no big power play here and no agenda.
In our prayer, we must be like the child. Although we are asking for something we think is good, we’re not really aware of the greater good that God has planned. If we want God to hear our prayer, we must be sincerely engaged in our own conversion.
When we are experiencing conflict, it is almost automatic to ask God to do such and such, in support of our own position. If however, we offer to God our conflict, then ask God to help resolve it, we are open to God’s plan and we usually experience guidance to a peaceful resolution. God frequently shows us a new perspective and by this we learn and trust him more.
If we’re open, God has a chance to lead and guide us.
Sometimes the resolution takes a long time. In that case, we have to have child-like trust that God is patiently working something good for that situation. I hope this is helpful to you! God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter