A friend who is applying to the seminary said to me this morning, “I realized that God doesn’t want some fake version of me as a priest. He wants me, he is calling me, as I am.” My friend is plainspoken, and he talks without irony or airs. His statement struck me as the best-said things do: I knew it applied to me.
My friend and I were sharing a cup of coffee after Mass. In his homily this morning, our pastor had pointed out that both the first reading and the Gospel involve beggars: a beggar outside the Temple in Jerusalem accosting Peter and John, and two disciples on the road to Emmaus begging the Risen Christ to bide with them a while. Our pastor invited us to realize that we are beggars too, and this led me to question what I truly beg for.
This may be why I said what I said next to my friend over coffee: “That applies to me as well. I mean, God’s not calling me to be a priest, of course, but I’ve always found it difficult to pray for things for myself. I mean, I think it’s OK to ask God to help rid me of my impatience, but I usually wouldn’t ask him for a job.”
“You mean, it’s OK to ask for virtues,” my friend said, “but not for stuff.”
“Exactly. I’m probably not going to pray to win the lottery, but if God is all-powerful and he really loves me and listens to me and knows everything that’s in my heart and mind, then I can tell him all my needs, personal, financial, whatever. I can give him that too. He doesn’t want a fake version of me either.”
A fake version of me is someone who only puts his best face forward, a man too “holy,” too together to be needy. Of course, God is too wise to be fooled and sees right through my fakery. But I may not.