Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Politician's Prayer

I am on a retreat this week.  I’ve taken time off to focus on God, to quiet all the other affairs of my life so I can hear Him speak to me --- if He so wills.  My intent was to spend these days praying for our country, and listening if God wished me to do more.  Whether walking the quiet paths through the woods, sitting in the chapel, or alone at night in my bed, I am focusing my thoughts on praying for our country.

Since I am an organizer of my time, one of my resolutions is to pray each day the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries of the rosary, and so after mass this morning I began with the Joyful Mysteries.  I’d only begun the very first bead of the first decade, however, when my thoughts moved to a particular focus.

1.      The Annunciation of the Angel to Mary
This is what I’d have you do:  listen for My Will;
resolve to do it.  No matter how hard.

While I began my meditation on these words with thoughts of Mary and how difficult it must have been for her to hear God’s will from the angel --- her life was already planned out before her, but she resolved to do God’s will, no matter how hard --- my thoughts also were on our country.  It too is on a path many believe is all planned out.  They call it “progressive;” the word even has the sound of something firmly going forward.  But what if God sent His angel and asked someone to step off that path, someone who was firmly on it --- like a political leader.  What would his response be when he heard an angel, the voice of God, telling him to change?  I think he’d hear those words of the first meditation (above) and stop, frozen in his tracks.  Change would be a most difficult thing for him, even if asked by an angel.

And then I read the second meditation:

Can God really be calling to me?

Oh, I think that would be the politician’s next thought --- I know it’s often mine when I perceive He is asking me to do something, let alone something hard.  I think that is generally true of all of us, though, we SAY we want to do God’s will, but if it’s not aligned with OUR will, well then ….

And so I then prayed in particular for this country’s politicians, and that God would open their hearts to His will, and that He would give them the grace and fortitude to do it.  And then I read the next meditation:

How can I do this.  This will cause me shame,
embarrassment, deep sacrifice or pain, public
humiliation.  Do You want this?

The politician, always in the camera’s eye, always seeking visibility, always wanting honor --- but upon hearing God’s will, he would become aware that living it will cause him to feel the opposite of all he’s lived for in the past.  A radical change of heart, a radical change of life is what God calls some of us to do.  I can see or hear a politician saying those above words in response to an angel.  I can see him in prayers, looking up to God and asking:  Me?  Why me?  We, too, often ask that question of God.

The first thing we need to own up to, the first thing we must get into our heart, is something that often only resides in our head:  God is God.  He doesn’t make mistakes.  There is a reason for His will, even if we cannot understand it --- even if it is hard, even if it will cause us shame or embarrassment.  It is the right thing to do, for reasons beyond what we want or understand.  God often wants big changes in our lives, (Do You want this?), but for big reasons.  The politician wants so much to be big in the eyes of the people, but here is God offering him an opportunity to be big in the eyes of God.  How few of us small people are offered such a big opportunity.  I am praying for a change in this country, in the world, perhaps God would answer my prayer by asking one politician to change.  But through these meditations I can now understand:  for that politician, it would be a most difficult request to hear.

Do not be afraid.

Almost in answer to my thoughts about the politician’s fears, I read that next meditation.  The angel said it to Mary, and it’s all throughout the Scriptures.  Do not be afraid.  Trust me.  But Adam and Eve couldn’t do it, nor could people down throughout history.  Despite the many, many, many, MANY bad results, people still want to trust themselves, first and foremost.  And should there be something beyond their control, they devise controls:  they buy insurance.  We so much want to be in control of our future.  And yet so often we won’t seek the aid of the One who CAN control our future.  For thinking ourselves so wise, we are so dumb.

And then I read the next meditation:

No one who sees me will understand.
They’ll talk; they’ll laugh.

Even as I imagined Mary thinking or saying those words, as her heart (perhaps with a heaviness?) came around to fully accepting the angel’s request, I could imagine the politician’s thinking also.  The life he had build up, the image he had projected, how could he explain a change of direction --- to God’s will --- to anyone?  They’ll laugh.  In our culture today the words “God made me do it” are considered either a joke, or the ravings of a mad man.

But the apostles were called “mad men”, and they wore the name as a badge of honor.

These mysteries I am meditating upon are called “The Joyful Mysteries,” and yet the words and actions seem anything but joyful, and there’s the rub:  from great sorrow will come great joy.  It’s written that way everywhere in Scripture, and epitomized on the Cross.  Jesus came to change the future of mankind.  It called for a great sacrifice, great sorrow.  I pray for our country, to change the path it is on.  This too will call for great sacrifice.

Praying these meditations, I was made aware how difficult it may be to have my prayers answered, to change our country.  It WILL call for great sacrifice, whether from one politician, or from all of us citizens.  But I say with all confidence:  with God, all things are possible.

And at that point I read the concluding meditations of this First Joyful Mystery:

Who am I to question.  Any sacrifice You ask
will be more than repaid.

Thy will be done; I trust in You

In this I find joy.

I pray for our country, for God’s mercy, and for our politicians.  Even if God were to send His personal angel to speak to them, I understand how difficult will be their response.  In a way, their actions could save the world, but still their first thoughts likely will be:  “But what will happen to me?”

They’re the same thoughts we have when God is asking us to change our lives.  It’s not easy.  “Change is hard,” is a saying often heard, but little understood --- until we are the ones called to change.

Perhaps changing our lives won’t save the world, maybe it will only save one person --- perhaps only us.  But I’d like to believe God put me in this world right here, right now, for a reason.  There are others depending on me, on my change of heart, and perhaps on yours.  And He doesn’t want us to let them --- or Him --- down.

This meditation was called “A Politician’s Prayer,” but obviously it isn’t one.  Rather it’s a call for us to pray for them --- in case they don’t know how.

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