Praying Through Difficult Feelings

Oct 31, 2019

Gospel Reflection  30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Praying Through Difficult Feelings

Have you ever sat down to pray only to be filled with thoughts of resentment toward family members, friends or co-workers?  Have you ever brought considerable anger to your prayer?  Rather than see these thoughts as bad, as ones that shouldn’t be there, or as ones for which God is viewing us as unlovable, they may very well be the place to begin in our prayers.  God wants to speak a word to us in these situations of our lives in which we have strong feelings. 

In our gospel this Sunday, Jesus tells a parable in which a Pharisee’s prayer is compared to that of a tax collector.  The Pharisee’s prayer is to say, “Thank God, I am not like these other people!”  However, it does not leave him justified.  It is the tax collector’s prayer in not even raising his eyes to heaven and saying, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner,” which allows him to go home justified.  So when we are angry at the world or at someone else, how do we go from being like the Pharisee in our prayers to being like the humble tax collector?

Times in which we discover anger and criticism in our prayer are times in which God is inviting us to look deeper into ourselves.  It may be that we are comparing ourselves to another in order to justify ourselves.  Even if we are not, we are invited to see the other person in the light of God’s love and mercy. 

We are invited to consider the human, fallible reasons why they are doing what they are doing.  This, in turn, can elicit a great compassion from us toward them, and help us to consider when we too need the same compassion and mercy of others.  This, then, enables us to focus once again upon the mercy of God, like the tax collector.  We must submit our criticism, our anger, our resentment to God hoping that he would widen our hearts to see the world and each other and ourselves with the eyes of the great Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  This is authentic prayer directed toward God and not toward ourselves. 

Father Tony