“God’s Not a Genie” By Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Pixabay User Karina Mannott

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I have a feeling that since the beginning of the pandemic, the ratio of Disney Plus to Netflix in our house would have been very different if we didn’t have little kids.  I mean I love Frozen II as much as the next guy, but do we really need to watch Elsa sing “Into the Unknown” every day? Yes. The answer is “yes” according to my 2-year-old daughter Lucy.

When we’re not playing outside getting our Elsa dress dirty, sometimes we’ll sit inside at the piano to give the TV a rest.  What song should I play, Lucy?  “Let it Go”? Again? Ugh fine.

Every once in a while, I can convince the kids to watch, play, or sing something other than Frozen.  Of course, I mean the Christmas short film “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.”  Ugh! But even less frequently, they’ll agree to put on one of the Disney classics from when I was a kid. 

Personally, Aladdin is one of my favorites.  Three wishes from a Genie, and a whole new world of amazing songs to sing along to (see what I did there?)?  What more could you want in a movie? (If you haven’t seen Aladdin, I’ll assume you spent the quarantine acquiring a useful new skill like baking gluten-free cupcakes.)  He starts out a bit selfish, or rather self-centered, but by the end he uses his last wish to set someone free.  I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say who, only that he’s blue and lives in a lamp.

Oddly enough, in this week’s First Reading, we see a similar scene play out; God comes to Solomon in a dream and says, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”  Solomon doesn’t ask for a new car, the latest iPhone, or even a 20% off coupon for Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  He asks for an understanding heart, to judge the people fairly.  God affirms him in this, and grants him great wisdom and understanding, because he didn’t ask for something for himself.

One thing to take away from this is that we should be focused on others in our prayer, praying and interceding for those who need healing, mercy, provision, and direction from God.  But another thing to take away is that God isn’t a genie.  There’s nothing wrong with bringing our needs before God – but too often we ask God to meet our needs in a very specific way that we might have in mind.

Lord, I need a new job that makes 6 figures, is only a 10-minute commute from my house and has a Keurig machine no more than 5 feet down the hall.  Lord, I feel called to marriage; and I have just the person in mind.  A spring wedding would be nice; but no rain.  Lord, bless the homeless man I just saw, and move someone’s heart to do something about his situation.

And the Lord would say back to us, “Bud, I’m not a genie.  I want you to bring me your needs, but then let me work according to my plan.  I’ll provide for you, but you drink too much coffee anyway.  You’ll have an opportunity to make that lifelong commitment of love, but have you thought about the priesthood as the place for that? I saw you walk past the homeless man.  I appreciate the sentiment, but why don’t you buy him a sandwich, or say hello, or at least make a donation to an outreach to the homeless when you get home. “

God’s not a genie.  But if we place our trust in him and let him work according to His plan and not our own, and if we are focused on others in our prayer and not ourselves, we’ll see that he’s more powerful than any genie could be.  I bet he’s even got catchier songs.

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