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Drinking the Cup

October 18, 2015 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

October 18, 2015
Mark 10:35-45
Fr. George Smiga

Be careful what you ask for. You may receive it. It is proper for us to ask God for good things, and God often answers our prayers. But the good things we receive do not always match what we expect. This is certainly the case for James and John in today’s gospel. They come to Jesus, and ask that they might sit with him in glory. In time their prayer is answered. They reign now with Jesus in Heaven. But to get there, they had to undergo persecution and, like Jesus, a painful death. This is the cup that Jesus tells them they must be able to drink.

The same is true of our patron St. Noel who we remember today. Noel prayed that he might serve as a missionary among the American Indians around our Great Lakes. He was willing to die as a martyr. In time his prayer was answered, and he came to this country and did die as a martyr. But he also found that he could not eat the Indians’ food or learn their language, and he was so often sick that he was frequently useless. Being a missionary was not as he expected it to be.

The same is true in our lives. We pray for someone to love and marry, and we do, for better and for worse. There is much that is better, but there is some that is worse: misunderstanding, hurt, and possibly divorce. We pray that we might have children, and they are given to us. They are a blessing. But they also worry us and disappoint us, and sometimes they walk out of our lives. We pray that we might live a long life, and we live into our nineties. But we also find that we have reduced mobility, and perhaps we lose our hearing. The quality of our life decreases. Many good things that we ask for, we receive. But they often come with a challenge, with a painful cup that we must drink—a cup we never thought would come to us.

Here is the good news. Although the challenges of our life might surprise us, they do not surprise God. God is blessing us with good things, and at the same time preparing us for the challenges that come with them. So, when our marriage is under stress, when our children ignore us, when our hearing goes, God is ready to stand with us and give us the strength that we need.

So, we should continue to pray for good things in our life as long as we understand that they might be different than what we expect. And when they include loss and pain, we should trust that God is still with us. When we receive a cup of suffering that we cannot put aside, it is faith to believe that God will give us the strength to drink it, so that the joys of our life may continue as well.

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