The other day Prof. Marchisio from our Conference of St. Vincent recommended another sad case to me. It’s the situation of a poor young woman who is graduating in fine arts and who needs to find a job so that she can support herself. I don’t know exactly who I should turn to; I thought of you, because you always have good ideas and you already have more experience in your life than I do. The idea would be to find a tutoring position with a family or else a job which pays a lot of money.”
-Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, Turin, July 18, 1922
How would you react if you received this letter? When I read this passage this morning I almost laughed out loud at Frassati’s bold appeal to his friend. My return telegram might have read something like, “If she wanted a job that pays a lot of money, she shouldn’t have gotten a fine arts degree. Not my problem. Xoxo.” My initial response is to instinctively try to guard my time and resources, especially with somewhat absurd requests like this one. Make a high-paying job materialize in post-World-War I Italy? Good luck.
And yet Frassati here dares to ask for the impossible. In a way he puts our tiny, measured-out, “reasonable” requests to shame. Think of our relationship to God in prayer. Have you ever asked God for something big? A miracle? Have you ever believed that you would get it?
And then there is the other difficult side of the coin–how we react when we receive requests that ask more of us than we are willing to give. Do we react with hostility? Resentment? Annoyance? (Those are almost always my initial reactions! Full disclosure!) But do we pause to think about where the request is coming from, the circumstances surrounding it, why the person turned to us?
My thought for today boils down to two questions: Do I allow myself to become a beggar before the Lord? And do I allow others to approach me in their moments of need?