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Nicholas Leeper S.J.Sep 20, 2023 12:00:00 AM1 min read

20 September 2023

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs

Sometimes, we want God to give us exactly what we want. Jesus says that in his generation, people had the same problem, “They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep’” (Luke 7:31-35). We may want to sing at funerals and mourn at parties. Although we may wish for something, it may not be appropriate for the time.

            We may be tempted to think that because God is God – all-powerful and all-knowing – if we don’t get what we want, God is just a bad parent. Wouldn’t any good parent satisfy the needs and desires of their children? I’m not a parent, so I can’t say with any experience. Still, I imagine most would agree that if all Junior wants is chocolate for dinner, a good parent would realize that that won’t be good for the child’s health in the long term. So, being a good parent would not just be satisfying every desire. Being a good God might sometimes mean we do not get what we want every time.

            However, our relationship with God is a conversation, not a checkout. It’s transformative, not transactional. We can talk to God about what we want and need, but realize that whatever we say is not the final word. There’s a negotiation that happens. We see this in the First Testament, where Moses, Abraham, Jacob, and others negotiate with God. Is God trying to speak to me through a particular circumstance or person that might not be what I expect? What do I need now? Can I bring that to God to open up a dialogue to move closer to my deepest desire, as St. Ignatius of Loyola would say, which I know God is working to provide?