{    Cnytr   }

{Monday, July 26, 2004  }

Billy Joel and Prayer

Reflecting on Luke's gospel yesterday, Father's homily touched on the subject of prayer. Most such homilies are predictable and formulaic, and father himself confessed that often homilies on the subject are boring. However, Father took a completely different route and gave an awesome homily.

If only I could remember it all.

There was one thing that he said that stuck out to me, and I'll put that here because I don't think a lot of people think about it.

It's okay to be mad at God.

It is. Really. Father made it very clear that God is big enough to handle it, and he illustrated the point with Martha and Mary. Jesus tarried in coming to them when Lazarus was dying, and when he finally did they *both* said to him "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died." An accusation, not only by the practical Martha but also by the contemplative Mary. How thoughtless of Jesus not to have come sooner, this was all his fault. And then "Jesus wept" (Jn 11:35).

He doesn't try to reason with them, doesn't tell them they're silly for accusing him such, doesn't try to explain it away... he weeps for them and for Lazarus, and then he raises them -- an anticipation of his (and our) resurrection.

It's okay, we're human, we have emotions and emotions are good, if not just okay. Notice, however, that Martha and Mary did not turn Jesus out. They received him and talked to him and spent time in his presence despite their grief and hurt. I don't want anybody to get the idea that they can up and drop everything, including prayer, if they're ever upset at God. I know that (this summer especially) I have often turned to God and said "God, WHY are you messing up my life? I can't believe you! This is all your fault! Why don't you just go away and leave me alone and let me take control, okay? It was all good when I was in control."

And this is where the Billy Joel song comes in. I heard one song in particular today that seemed to illustrate this in pieces: "It's Only a Matter of Trust". In it, he says (amont other things) "the closer you get to the fire the more you get burned." This is true... St. Theresa of Avila said, when her carriage was overturned and her leg broken, "Lord, if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them!" The closer you are to any one person or thing, the easier it is to be hurt by it. Certainly Christians were never promised the easy path, but I don't think anyone ever expects God to "hurt" them. And of course, God does not sit up in the heavens, Zeus-like, wielding his thunderbolts, dealing out punishments to the mortals who displease him. Unfortunately, since we are not privy to seeing the Big Picture, it sometimes seems this way.

Trials and sufferings are sent our way to refine us, as gold and silver, until our imperfections have been burned away.

But, back to Billy Joel, it's often just "a matter of trust" that God knows what he's doing. Once we're done kicking our heels at the almighty and throwing our 2-year-old why-can't-I-get-what-I-want temper tantrum, that's what it boils down to. Somehow, God is in control (an unfortunately cliched saying), and once we kick back and let someone else bear the huge burden of taking the reigns, we can carry our light yoke which often seems a heavy cross and pick up and run the race.

(By the way, if I go *any* farther with the Billy Joel song, it's going to sound really dorky and cheesy and you have to ignore some parts of the song to get it right.)
posted by Lauren, 10:39 AM


thanks for this one, lauren.
a really good post.
commented by Blogger romy, 10:11 PM  

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