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Delaney CoyneJune 13, 2024
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

You can find today’s readings here.

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray.”

When we ask God to “Give us this day our daily bread,” it’s a modest ask, especially in a Costco-going, big-box-store, buy-in-bulk culture like ours. We want to stock up for security’s sake. We don’t just want to know where our next meal is coming from; we always want to be certain that there will be a next meal—and another after that. It is terrifying to feel precarious, always wondering when the other shoe will drop, when our supply will run out.

Sometimes, faith is like this too. I want to know that my doubts will be assuaged forever, that I will always feel solid in my faith. Our Scripture reflection publication schedule means that I am writing this reflection days after headlines broke about the pope using a slur in reference to gay men in seminaries.As I write, it is all I can think about. It wounded me to hear such a hateful word from a man whose message of welcome and compassion to L.G.B.T.Q. people has strengthened my faith in the church that I love. But then, there are moments like this, flashes of homophobia that bring me back to that question: Why do I stay? Are we becoming a church that is truly catholic—universal—a place where all can encounter the love of God and save their souls, or are we becoming a clique that welcomes only the seemingly righteous? It hurts to think about these questions, and I wonder how long I can stand it.

I do not know. All I know is how it feels to be here, today, and it feels precarious. Today, my faith feels more unstable than it has in a while, and I wonder what the future holds. I cannot know what will come tomorrow, and I fear that the despair will outlive the darkness. Surely, I think to myself, I don’t have the grace to withstand this. I want to be stocked up. I want to feel secure.

But the brilliance of “give us this day our daily bread” is that it reminds us that God’s grace isn’t something you can stock up on; there is no spiritual equivalent of a Costco haul. The grace God offers us is not transactional, but relational. Like friendship, prayer is a constant discipline, a relationship with God. In Learning to Pray, James Martin, S.J., quotes St. Teresa of Ávila’s definition of prayer: “Mental prayer is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” Like friendship, we need to spend time with Jesus to understand what he is calling us to, and how he is working through our despair and our grief.

So, overwhelmed, I ducked into America’s chapel, had a good cry, and prayed, wanting to be with the one I know loves me. I know he loves everyone. I did not bother with finding my own words; “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Instead, I prayed in the way Jesus taught in today’s Gospel, and I lingered on “give us this day our daily bread.” I don’t know what the future holds, except that God will always be there. God knows what we need before we even ask. God will offer the grace sufficient for the day, and the one after that.

More: Scripture

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