Homily of the Day

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Toward the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus makes a statement that is true, even if we felt through our own experience that it may be false. Jesus says that when two people pray together for anything at all, their prayers will be answered.

William Barclay suggests that simply because we are human, our prayers are most often “prayers of escape.” Perhaps we pray to escape our problems, sorrows and disappointments. However, according to Barclay, God does not necessarily give us escape from the human situation. Instead, he gives us the grace to understand and endure the dread circumstances we were intent on escaping from.

Barclay then cites Jesus’ behavior in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prayed to be released from the horror that sinful men were about to impose on him. It was a “prayer of escape.” God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer did not to enable him to avoid the trial but gave him the grace to “meet the trial, to endure it and to conquer it.” Jesus recognized this even while he was making his prayer. This is why he paused and added the words to his prayer of escape, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”

Surely, if this is the way Jesus prayed, it should describe our prayer also: “Save me, Lord, from this illness; Lord, do not let me lose my job. Let me, Lord, eliminate the tensions that are destroying this most important relationship in my life.” The Christian’s prayer, however, is to add to his prayer of escape in imitation of Christ: “Let not my will, but yours be done.”