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Finding Hope After Unanswered Prayers

December 29, 2020   Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs (Lectionary: 698)

Reading 1   1 JN 1:5—2:2
Beloved:
This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ
and proclaim to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are without sin,”
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Responsorial Psalm   PS 124:2-3, 4-5, 7CD-8
R. (7) Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Had not the LORD been with us—
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive,
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.

Alleluia
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   MT 2:13-18
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

By Teresa Tompkins 

I don’t know about you, but I have yet to experience a more slow and agonizing year than this one. Nothing has gone as planned, and everything, everyone has been in turmoil. So much loss and so much suffering in one year. Darkness has crept in all corners of my life in various ways. I have searched day and night for answers, guidance, relief, and inspiration, but have found none.

How do I transition into this new year with hope, when the last felt like an eternal night of prayers unanswered? 

In today’s Gospel of Luke, I was touched by a very simple, but profound action of Simeon. “When the parents brought in the child Jesus… he (Simeon) took him into his arms”. I began to ponder the wonder of holding the Savior, the long-awaited Emmanuel, in my own arms.

My heart leaped at the very thought of the humility, the joy, and the love our Lord chose to live and be as one of us – to come into our world as a child which is one of our most vulnerable and innocent stages of life.

I cannot even begin to fathom how Simeon must have felt in that very moment. For all of his life, Simeon had been longing and waiting for God to fulfill His promise, and there he was an old and withered man holding the Word made flesh – an infant. The overwhelming surprise and love that must have flooded his soul! 

As I continued to read on, “And he (Simeon) blessed God saying: ‘Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled’” it suddenly struck me the irrevocable connection between Simeon’s action of taking Jesus into His arms and his epiphany of praise and trust. Simeon did not care how long it took or in what manner or form his prayer would be answered, he cared for the Christ.

He knew that his only hope and fulfillment came from enthroning God into his heart and arms. 

Daily, I sought to find the Lord’s faithfulness in this year, but I looked in all the wrong places. I expected it to come from moments or things that I had in this year and even answers that I forgot to recognize what and who He is in my life. Instead of embracing and cherishing Him as I would a sweet infant in my arms, I would pass by all that He would offer.

I went so far as to place limits on God as to when and how He should answer my prayers and the cries of this world. 

So, today I take comfort and hope in letting the Child Jesus, the source of all that is good and pure, rest in my arms. I see his sweet, and little hand reach out to touch my face as I look into His trusting eyes and say, “You are the answer to all my prayers, to all my heart aches. You are my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace”. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Teresa Tompkins is the youngest of eight children, and an auntie of twenty-two nieces and nephews. From a young age, she has been dedicated to serving and leading in music and youth ministries at her local parish and in various other communities. Teresa is currently a music teacher of voice and piano as well as in the process of completing her bachelor’s degree in Theology. You can find out more about Teresa here

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