St. Augustine is quoted as having said: “God who created you without, will not save you without you.” In other words, cooperation with God is essential to our salvation. Salvation is a free gift; but unless the gift is accepted, it is not effective. In God’s eternal plan there are some gifts and graces that God chooses to give only when we ask for them.
Today we hear a very brief passage from the Third Letter of St. John. In it, he begs the members of his community to support their brothers and sisters, especially strangers, who are working for the sake of the Name of Jesus. Supporting one another is one way in which we cooperate with God’s plan of salvation.
Another way that we participate is through prayer, the subject of our Gospel reading for today. Our prayer does not change God or God’s will; they change us. So by all means, we should offer simple prayers such as “Jesus, I trust in you” and “Your will be done” as often as possible. However, when we ask God for what we need explicitly, concretely, and as Jesus exhorts us, repeatedly, it changes us into the kind of people who rely more on God than ourselves in all things. We grow in humility and trust to the point where we can sincerely say “Yes” to God’s will even when God doesn’t give us the answer we expect.
Beyond changing us, Jesus assures us that our prayers do change the world. God could do it all. However, as St. Augustine reminds us, God wants us to cooperate. At every Eucharist and throughout the day, we are to pray confidently for ourselves and for those we love and for the whole world.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator