God’s mercy, love, forgiveness, and justice were not ancient hopes or wishful thinking. They are being offered to you now.
Approaching the podium, she organizes her notes. Watching from my seat, I am filled with anticipation, excitement, and some worry. As chaplain of an all-girls Catholic school, I have heard many commencement speakers. Usually given by an alumna, the speeches are often inspiring and challenging. My worry is based on a few that, to put it charitably, missed the mark.
Our speaker this year is a woman who is a successful entrepreneur, as well as a woman of deep faith. In what would be a memorable address, she recalled the many commencements she attended as a student, singing in the choir. She remembered not only listening to the speeches but also hoping to return one day as the commencement speaker. Now standing before the graduates, her voice betraying a deep emotion, she said today I am standing in answered prayer.
The rest of her speech was both inspiring and challenging. But long after the diplomas were conferred, that one sentence stayed with me. Today I am standing in answered prayer.
Jesus stood up to read from the scroll of Isaiah the Prophet (Luke 4:16-21). Watching him take the scroll, the assembly was probably filled with anticipation, excitement, and some worry. Would Jesus say something that was inspiring and challenging? Would he say something they didn’t want to hear?
Addressing the crowd, Jesus recalls the promise of the prophet. God’s mercy, love, forgiveness, and justice were not ancient hopes or wishful thinking. They are being offered to you now. Jesus told the people, today you are standing in answered prayer.
For many people the list of unanswered prayers is long. And if there are answers, they often miss the mark. Continued war, famine, and violence in our world. A dire medical prognosis, a job offer not received, and a relationship that remains estranged. The list could fill countless scrolls.
The words of that graduation speaker were a reminder of something I can easily forget. No matter what the circumstance, I am standing in grace. No matter what the problem, I am standing the presence of a God who loves me. No matter what the struggle, I am not alone. The deepest prayers of my life are answered.
The etymology of “alumna” includes a word that means “nourish.” On a morning in early June, an alumna of our school nourished me with a new awareness. Because I stand in grace, I might be the answer to someone’s prayer.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.