When we walk through the main entrance of the church, we may have noticed quite a few things there.
|This life-size statue of |
The Sacred Heart has been
with our Church since 1910.
And then there is a table with the “Year of Mercy” pilgrimage pamphlets and information.
And then lately, about more a week ago, we added something else.
There is another table with an acrylic box and a holder with green-coloured slips of paper by its side.
That box is for petitions to the Sacred Heart and the green-coloured slips of paper are petition slips for us to write our petitions. Of course there are pencils there as well for us to write our petitions.
Just over a week and the petition box is already almost full. About 500 petition slips and almost all are used up and hence the need to print more already.
And on the 1st Friday Mass the petitions in the petition box are offered up and prayed for.
Going by the petitions that are already in the petition box it can be said that people don’t pray only when they are in trouble.
Because when we only pray when we are in trouble, then it may mean that we are already in big trouble.
Nonetheless, trouble and desperation will make us pray. There is even a “Student’s Desperate Prayer” that goes like this: "Now I lay me down to rest, And hope to pass tomorrow's test. If I should die before I wake, Then that’s the test I don’t have to take."
But prayer is not a “spare wheel” that we pull out when we are in trouble, but a “steering wheel” to direct us along the right path.
And when prayers go up, blessings come down. But if we heard of “blessings in disguise” then we must also be prepared that when our prayers go up, then the blessings might come down as a surprise.
In the 1st reading, the prophet Isaiah began with a prayer of mourning over the king’s passing, but what came down was a vision that resulted in his commissioning when he responded “Here I am, send me.”
In the 2nd reading, St. Paul recounted how he was a persecutor of the Church before his conversion. He probably prayed for success in his persecution. But would he ever think that he would change from persecuting the Good News to preaching the Good News?
And in the gospel, Peter would had probably prayed for fish, since he worked hard all night and caught nothing. But would he ever think that from catching fish for a living, he would be catching men for the Lord?
So when prayers go up, blessings come down. And when those blessings come down, they might come down in disguise and they will also come down as a surprise.
For Isaiah, St. Paul and St. Peter, they started off with their own prayers, and the blessings that came down, came as a surprise.
So when we pray, a surprise will be awaiting us. And it might just be that we will be the answer to someone else’s prayer.
There is a story of a pretty and well-dressed lady who went to see a lawyer to file for divorce.
Her husband used to be a successful businessman, and he was able to support her expensive and lavish life-style.
But when his business failed, his wife couldn’t take it and decided to file for divorce and leave him.
When the lawyer heard her story, he told her that he would like someone to speak to her, and he called in a middle-aged office cleaner.
The lawyer asked the cleaner to tell the lady how she found meaning and direction in her life.
The cleaner’s story went like this – My husband died of cancer in his late 30s, and then barely half a year later, my only son was killed in a road accident.
I had nobody left and nothing to live for. I was in grief and in shock and in a daze. I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t eat.
I couldn’t smile. I was angry with God and resented those people who seemed so happy in life. I even thought of ending my life.
One day when I came back from work, there was a scrawny kitten at the corridor, meowing away, and it followed me to the door.
I felt sorry for the kitten, and I decided to let it in and I gave it some milk. It purred and rubbed against my leg.
For the first time in months, I smiled. Then I stopped to think. If helping and feeding a little kitten can make me smile, then maybe helping somebody in need can make me happy.
So the next day, I cooked some food and brought it to a neighbour who was elderly and sick, and it made her happy.
So every day, I would try to do something nice for someone else and it made me happy to see them happy.
I realized that a person cannot be happy unless he is thinking of how much he can help others, instead of thinking about how much he can get from others.
Now I eat well, and I sleep well, and I am happy.
And then the cleaner said to the lady: I hope that you can be happy too, by helping others to be happy.
Whether the lady changed her mind or not, the story leaves it to us to think about it.
But the point of the story is that the poor cleaner found happiness by helping others to be happy.
She prayed for happiness and found it by helping others to be happy.
So when prayers of petition are offered up, blessings in disguise and blessings of surprise are awaiting us.
And it will help us change our own perspectives to see how God wants us to be an answer and a blessing to others.
Often we feel bad when others remember us only when they need us. But actually we should feel blessed because we are like a candle that comes to their mind when there is darkness.
So we pray, and offer up our prayer and petitions. And like Isaiah, St. Paul and St. Peter, let us be prepared to be God’s answer and blessing for others.