I am certain I must have read the words regarding Aaron's
"Breastpiece of Decision" in the 28th chapter of Exodus before, but
I'd never taken much notice until this morning. Today, it was as
though I read them for the first time.
They struck a chord because I had just finished praying the
Liturgy of the Hours. To this I always add a list of names of
people close to my heart. I plead for God's grace to come into the
lives in many ways. These are precious children, grandchildren and
friends for whom I storm heaven on a daily basis. Some of them have
been on my list for many years.
This morning I felt a touch of despair for some of those names.
I found myself wondering, in an offhand way, if all my prayers for
these precious souls amount to much more than a hill of beans! What
good does it do to keep begging for the Light of Christ to shine in
the lives of people who might think they are "fine, thank you" just
the way they are?
Here in Exodus, Aaron receives instruction for the breastpiece
of decision the priest is to wear whenever he enters the sanctuary.
Four rows of precious stones are to be mounted in gold filigree,
three to a row for a total of 12 stones. Each stone is to be
engraved with the name of one of the 12 tribes. Aaron bears the
names of the 12 tribes over his heart whenever he comes into the
In the same way, in prayer, we bear others with us into the
Lord's presence. In the years we have prayed together, we have seen
some wonderful answers to serious problems. In those same years, we
also continue to bear some problems that seem to have no
Part of the grace we have been given is to be poured out for the
sake of others. Mary continues to intercede for all of us. I wonder
if she ever feels like throwing up her hands, covering her face and
asking if anything will make a difference in some lives!
In prayer, we carry others to the gates of heaven. True, they
must choose to follow Christ through those gates on their own, but
we can, with prayer, at least get them that far.
Moses raised his hands over the Israelites and, as long as he
held his hands over them, they prevailed. When his arms grew too
weary to hold up, Aaron and Hur stood on either side and lifted his
Aaron had a responsibility to carry the tribes into God's
presence. As people of prayer, we have a responsibility to continue
to do the same for those who are not yet able to bring themselves
into the presence of God in prayer.
Sometimes it isn't that others are changed by our prayers.
Bearing their names in love over a long period of time changes us.
We tend to become more loving toward some of the more difficult
people we carry in prayer. We see new things about them, get a new
perspective on their lives, see them in a more positive