Making Deals with God

Homily, 7-10-23; Monday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time:

We can reflect on how we ask God for help when we face a difficult situation. Do we ask in faith trusting that God will help us according to His will? Or, do we try to make a deal promising to do something for God, or promise to believe in Him, if He does something for us?

This morning we see that contrast. Jacob takes the latter approach. He says: “If God remains with me, to protect me on this journey I am making and to give me enough bread to eat and clothing to wear, and I come back safe to my father’s house, the LORD shall be my God. This stone that I have set up as a memorial stone shall be God’s abode.” If God does this for me, then I will believe that this is a holy place. There is a big “if” involved with his faith even though God has revealed Himself to him in a dream.

And then, in our gospel passage, we have two examples of people who have faith, who believe and trust in Jesus’ healing power without waiting for the results to confirm their faith. The official believes that Jesus can save his daughter. The woman suffering from hemorrhages believed that she would be cured if she touched Jesus’ cloak. They look to Jesus for healing and assistance, but do not put Him to the test.

It is a lesson for how we should pray. We should not make deals with God or put him to the test. If we are in a difficult situation, we should not approach God with an offer to do some good deed or offer some sacrifice if He bails us out of our difficulty. We should not make our faith in Him conditional on whether He grants our requests according to our will and desires.

When we ask God for assistance, we should pray and make sacrifices along with our request, and then trust and accept that God will answer our prayers according to His will. Our faith must remain strong even when our prayers are not answered in the manner that we hope for.

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