Having the Courage to Pray Bold Prayers

October 18, 2020   Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 145) 

Reading 1   IS 45:1, 4-6

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp,
subduing nations before him,
and making kings run in his service,
opening doors before him
and leaving the gates unbarred:
For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
of Israel, my chosen one,
I have called you by your name,
giving you a title, though you knew me not.
I am the LORD and there is no other,
there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you, though you know me not,
so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
people may know that there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, there is no other.

Responsorial Psalm   PS 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10

R. (7b) Give the Lord glory and honor.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of nought,
but the LORD made the heavens.
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
Bring gifts, and enter his courts.
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.
Worship the LORD, in holy attire;
tremble before him, all the earth;
say among the nations: The LORD is king,
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.

Reading 2   1 THES 1:1-5B

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace.
We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,
before our God and Father,
knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God,
how you were chosen.
For our gospel did not come to you in word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. 

Alleluia   PHIL 2:15D, 16A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Shine like lights in the world
as you hold on to the word of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia

Gospel   MT 22:15-21

The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion,
for you do not regard a person's status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
"Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax."
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?"
They replied, "Caesar's."
At that he said to them,
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."

By Michele Volk 

It was late fall, early winter in Minnesota, which basically meant it was freezing outside. And what does one do on a cold day in Minnesota except go to the coolest coffee shop you can find. I was meeting with a good friend. Our coffee date soon turned into a 3-hour conversation as we apparently had many things catch up on. She had a lot going on in her life at the time. The weight she was carrying was heavy.

Toward the end of our conversation, my friend mentioned she had chronic back pain - the kind that kept her up at night. Mind you, she is young, like too young to be restricted from playing school sports because of back pain. So, I sat there listening to her talk about this pain she’d been undergoing for quite some time when it happened.

“Pray with her.”

It wasn’t loud or overtly obvious. It wasn’t an audible voice. It was subtle, manifesting itself as a thought in my head that wasn’t there before. Something I didn’t think up myself.

So, I mustered up the courage to ask her if she would want to pray for her back. I promised to be discreet as to not draw too much attention to us. I don't typically just go into coffee shops and pray with people for healing, but when I get a prompting, I try to follow. 

I sat there on my stool, explained what I would do, and started praying. It wasn’t a huge long prayer, but rather a simple beckoning of the Holy Spirit to come heal her back. After a minute or two of praying, I had her get up off her chair and walk around. That day, she had been at 6 or 7 on a 1-10 pain scale.

As she stood up and walked around the coffee shop, I watched her face change. Her hands started shaking and she looked at me in disbelief. The pain was completely gone. Completely.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting there trying not to run around the room screaming out of joy and excitement.

She was fully healed that day in the coffee shop.

Today’s second reading says, “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”

The Gospel manifests itself in the power of the Holy Spirit. How often do I forget that? We have a living Advocate here with us in our day-to-day life. Being aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life has been one of the most influential things in my spiritual life in the last few years.

The Holy Spirit is present and working in power.

I was reminded of that in the coffee shop with my friend. I am reminded to be attentive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. I am reminded to have the courage to act on those promptings. I am reminded simply that the Holy Spirit is actually with me. My friend tangibly encountered God that day by the working of the Holy Spirit, and I’m confident the Holy Spirit wants to work in each of us as well.


Michele Volk is a Philly native who has found a new home in the arctic tundra of Minnesota, where she has lived for the past 5 years. She is a graduate student at University of St. Thomas, campus minister, and high school soccer coach. Michele is always in pursuit of the best slice of pizza and taco food truck. She loves traveling, Spikeball, and a good bonfire. Most of all, she treasures her family, friends, and students.

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