When I was young and I wanted something I would always try and talk my parents into it. I never asked a direct question but always came at it in a round-about way. My mother used say I was like a crab the way I would come at things. It drove her nuts. Most children just seem to keep asking the direct question until the parents are worn out, as I’m sure many of you are familiar with. 'Please can we go to the beach? Please can we go to the beach? Please can we go to the beach?' It’s interesting that in this Gospel Jesus more or less tells us not to afraid to pester him in this way when we are praying for something. Keep asking and don’t be afraid to ask.
A common difficulty for most of us is that we continually wonder if God really does answer our prayers. So often I’ve heard people say that they have prayed for something but God hasn’t listened, or answered. Is this true? Not if what Jesus says to us is true; and of course we believe that He only speaks the truth. ‘Ask and you will receive’; not might receive, but will receive. I suppose part of the problem lies in the fact that we often don’t recognise how God answers us. God always answers us but we may not even be aware of the answer, as it may not be what we expect.
During my teens I lost interest in the practice of my faith just like many of my peers, although I still believed in God. When I was nineteen I remember thinking at one stage that I wanted to find out whether this faith was real or not. I didn’t just want to drift aimlessly. A few days before I turned nineteen a close friend of mine was killed in a car accident. This was a terrible shock to me because it was the first real encounter I had with death and it made me ask a lot of questions. At the end of the summer of that same year I came across a book called Power for Living. This was a series of testimonies of other people who had come back to God and whose faith meant a lot to them. At the end of the book it said: ‘If you want to discover God in your life, then ask him now wherever you are to come into your life and make himself known to you.’ I remember sitting at the end of my bed and saying, ‘Ok Lord, if you are there help me to find you.’ And then I put the book away and forgot all about it. I could never have imagined what would happen next.
A few weeks later I met a friend of mine called Aidan, who told me about a mutual friend of ours called Louise who had been to Medjugorje and had rediscovered her faith, or as Aidan put it: ‘she has become all religious and holy.’ I was intrigued, because Louise was my own age and from a similar background. So I called around to her and asked her about it. I remember she talked for about an hour and a half about what had happened. At the end of the conversation she invited me to come to a prayer meeting here in Galway. Now I wasn’t that keen to go to a prayer meeting. I thought I was much too cool for such things. But Louise was smart enough to know that and she asked another girl whom I fancied, to ask me. Naturally I went! Both of those girls are now married and I’m a priest!
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