Sometimes God speaks in a whisper. And sometimes He has to hit you over the head.
I’ve been praying for a special intention over the last few days, and went to Mass this morning with it weighing on my heart and mind. Why can’t God just listen to me? It might not be the most selfless intention, but it seems like a nice intention to me, and I just want Him to listen to my prayers.
The Gospel was from Mark 10, that story of how right after Jesus announces his death, James and John are sort of oblivious and ask to sit at his right and left.
“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him,
“Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
I think I’m more accustomed to the story from Matthew, when their mother comes and kneels before Jesus to ask him something, and he asks what she wants. The language is a little softer than in Mark, so these words sort of lept up at me: Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.
I thought to myself, “Jeesh. I’m sure you do. How dare you just come up to Jesus and demand He do whatever you ask!”
Then I stopped. Hm. It sounded a bit familiar to me once I thought about it a bit.
I went back and looked at the Gospel, after seeing myself in it, and I noticed that Jesus never gets mad at them. He doesn’t seem upset that they were so impertinent. It’s the other apostles who are upset. But not Christ.
After all, He had told them, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
He doesn’t get upset with them, but He transforms their question. They’ve asked for something He cannot give — because He has something much better for them. Sometimes our human petitions are so short-sighted, so ignorant, so selfish. But He doesn’t get mad at us. He accepts the prayers, the requests, and transforms them. “Silly little children,” He must think. “You don’t really want that. I know what you really want, and when you’re ready, I shall give it to you. And it will be beyond your deepest desires.”