People were bringing their little children to him to have him touch them; and the disciples rebuked them for this.
When Jesus noticed it, he was very angry and said, “Let the children come to me and don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and, laying his hands on them, blessed them.
We all experience bad days, days when it seems to us that everything that could possibly go wrong goes wrong. How do we usually react when we find ourselves caught in “one of those days?” Swear like a drunken sailor? Take out our frustration on those around us? Kick the dog? Get drunk? Go on an eating spree? Pout in a corner? Quit our job?
In this connection James gives us good advice in today’s first reading. He says “Are any among you discouraged? They should pray.” Is praying our spontaneous reaction when we feel down in the dumps? No? Yet, if we tried it, we might be surprised by its good results. Why is this? Because, as James further explains, “the prayer of the upright man has great power.” He speaks of the prayer not of a great saint, but simply of an upright man—what most sincere Christians are, no doubt. But then James adds, “Provided he perseveres.” Ah, there’s the rub! A half-hearted Hail Mary will not do the trick. This must be a persevering prayer for it to lift a person’s spirit. But such a prayer always succeeds in doing precisely that.
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