Re-post from 2 years ago.
Some stumbling, wandering thoughts evoked by these words of Bl. Mother Teresa:
Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.
As I got lost in this thought I imagined prayer to be also God putting Himself into our hands; of a strange mutuality it seemed almost blasphemous to press too far. Yet, I pressed.
I then remembered a pastor of an Orthodox Church in New England who once said in a homily on 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”:
God has so designed creation that some good things will not be given unless they are sought in prayer. While He does not require our cooperation by strict necessity, as He needs nothing, by His compassion and love He has bound Himself to us as if He needed us. So present to God your every need, and seek all good things for yourself and for all. But never request any good thing from God that does not end with the phrase, “…if it be for the salvation of my soul, the glory of your Name and the salvation of all…” In fact, never do anything that would not count all three of these things as the immovable rudder of your life. When you are in a dilemma over what is right to choose, say aloud, “For the glory of God and the salvation of all I will…” If those don’t fit, don’t do it…The Lord’s prayer is our supreme model of all prayer, given by the Word Himself. Notice it begins the series of seven petitions with three that consent to what God wants done and not what we want done…but for humanity made in His image, what He wills is our joy and fulfillment.
An all-powerful and eternal God’s plan not only permits a real place for our free contributions to the unfolding of His plan, but necessitates our cooperation. Why? Simpler is better. A Missionary of Charity sister at Gift of Peace home for the dying in D.C. once offered me a dazzling insight into this mystery. As she was explaining to me how to serve the sick and poor in a way that preserved their dignity, she said,
If you are going to serve them, you must love them. And they will never know you love them if they don’t see you as their equal. If they see you as their superior or feel you see them as your inferior, you will never be able to give them love, or receive their love. Love makes the beloved an equal. Jesus is God’s love making us His equal. You are educated, strong, privileged, healthy; they are often uneducated, weak, underprivileged, and sick. First, remember, you are both human beings with the same dignity; made in God’s image and brothers of Jesus. You are both poor before God, equally poor. You both came from nothing and are nothing with out God. Look them in the eye, talk with them not at them; get to know them and let them get to know you. Don’t be afraid of feeling afraid with them. Help them, yes, but let them also help you. You’ll know how. Love reciprocates.
Verbum caro factum est
“Jesus is God’s love making us His equal.” That was the first time I had ever thought of the Incarnation that way. I thought: God’s stooping down to us is not simply a passing act of clemency offered to rescue pitiable man from his miserable plight, while God Himself remains unscathed. Rather, the Incarnation was the free decision of an all-holy God who chose to share fully in fallen man’s condition and wholly identify Himself with all that it means to be ignorant, weak, underprivileged and sick. All to save us. But more — dare I say more? — the Son came not merely as the One who lifts fallen man from the “dung heap” (cf Psalm 113:7), but also as the One whom man himself lifts up from the earth and offers back to His Father. “O admirabile commercium: O marvelous exchange!” (CCC §526)
[God] said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” Gen 32:26
Prayer is caught into this ineffable mystery, arising from deep within the Heart of Jesus. Prayer is where and when and how God and man are tightly bound one to another by love, human and divine wills vying to possess the other like Jacob who wrestled God in the night (Genesis 22:22-32); like Israel who wrestled a begging God. And in Jesus, man would forever refuse to let go of that begging God again, refuse to abandon Him before the rising dawn.
Gasp. St Catherine of Siena, help me out:
O eternal, infinite Good! O mad lover! And you have need of your creature? It seems so to me, for you act as if you could not live without her, in spite of the fact that you are Life itself, and everything has life from you and nothing can have life without you. Why then are you so mad? Because you have fallen in love with what you have made! You are pleased and delighted over her within yourself, as if you were drunk with desire for her salvation. She runs away from you and you go looking for her. She strays and you draw closer to her. You clothed yourself in our humanity, and nearer than that you could not have come.
“For we are his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus” — Ephesians 2:10
A last thought. Though we must assert that prayer is in the end a submission to God’s supreme will, we also affirm that God’s will, in Jesus, is forever and inseparably bound to the will of humanity. God cannot will anything without the human will being engaged, and every movement of the human will engages God. And from this God-man synergy, from the entwining flames of human and divine love that flare up from the Cross, surging out into the vast cosmos, comes the most exquisitely beautiful art in the whole of creation; an art first born in prayer.
Take a look: