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I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Prayer, turning to God reveals His plan hidden within us

The readings for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time implicitly celebrate the mystery of God that is hidden deep within us. Reflecting on the word reveals His presence.

Some people are so curious to know their future that they turn to the occult to discover it. The word of God strictly warns us never to go that route. For example, in the Book of Deuteronomy, God tells Moses: "Let there not be found among you anyone who causes their son or daughter to pass through the fire, or practices divination, or is a soothsayer, augur, or sorcerer, or who casts spells, consults ghosts and spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead. Anyone who does such a thing is an abomination to the Lord."

People who seek information in this way simply make a pact with Satan, and if they don't repent, they will belong to Satan and spend eternity in hell. If you know anyone who is involved in the occult in any form whatsoever, warn him or her that they're putting their eternal salvation in jeopardy. To be saved, they immediately must turn back to Jesus in repentance.

On the other hand, the readings encourage us to turn to God to discover His hidden presence and designs.

That's exactly what King Solomon does in the first reading. He knows he is young and inexperienced as a leader, so he turns to God and asks for the gift of wisdom to govern God's people. God responds: "Because you have asked for this — not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for an understanding so that you may know what is right — I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you."

Solomon asked for the gift of wisdom, not for self-aggrandizement, but for the sake of serving God. Hence, God readily granted this gift for the sake of the kingdom.

The very inspiration for this gift was itself a gift of God. Every time we have a desire to pray or to do some good deed, that desire is a gift the Father has placed in our hearts, and our following through with seeking this gift carries forward the kingdom of God. That's a reason we pray, to recognize God's hidden desires within us so that we open our hearts to Him in a deeper way.

In the second reading, Paul hints at the hidden plan of God within our world: "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." So often we're confused when we feel God hasn't heard our prayer for deliverance from sickness or sin. And we're confused when we do what we believe is God's will for us, but other people sin against us and we think that God doesn't care.

Nothing could be further from the truth. God works it out that in His mysterious goodness we will be better off after God is finished than we were before someone sinned against us. That's why Jesus told us to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors. This is both for our own protection and for the salvation of those who sin against us. This is privileged participation in the inner life of the Trinity.

In the Gospel, Jesus gives us two parables, which talk about the hidden kingdom within. On one hand, it's like a treasure hidden in a field, and on the other hand, it's like a net thrown into the sea.

There is so much about the kingdom of heaven that is hidden deep within us. It's our privilege to search for that kingdom by prayer and reflection on the word of God, which is the truth that often confronts the hidden lies deep within. For example, I may have grown up thinking that God doesn't love me because I have sinned. Then I read in Psalm 103: "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us." Suddenly, I have a deep sense of being loved by my God in spite of my many failings. That means that the kingdom of heaven is coming alive within me.

The more I love reflecting on the words of Scripture, the more I love the truth that sets me free. The more I reflect on God's word, the more I find my home in God and God in my home deep within me. St. Augustine said: "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, O Lord."

The more time I spend watching television or the internet, the more restless I become because this activity is feeding me worldly values which entice me to seek more. On the other hand, the more I rest in God's word, the more rested and peaceful I become.

Try this. The next time you find yourself hurt, restless and dissatisfied, instead of grabbing a drink, a desert or more television diversion, simply pick up the Bible from your night stand, open it, and ask Jesus to help you find a passage that you need to hear. You may be surprised to find a peace that surpasses all understanding. 

RELATED ARTICLE(S):I thought you should know | 'Faith is the realization of what is hoped for'

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