St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Pray with Confidence                                                                        -Homily June 5, 2016

“But why does God not listen to me?”

 

If we ask someone for something, there are three reasons we may doubt that we will obtain what we want. The first is that we dont know if the other person also thinks that we need that. If you go to your boss to ask for a raise, you dont know if he also thinks that this is a good idea. It may depend on the finances of the firm, and you dont know them. So, you dont know what he thinks about your request, and therefore you may doubt if he will grant it to you or not. The second reason we may doubt about obtaining what we want is this: we dont know if the other person has the power or the ability to do what we ask for. The third reason, we dont know if the other person loves us enough to grant our request. Because even supposing that the funds are there, and that the person I ask is the right person to give a raise, that person may not like me, and so I doubt if he will grant my request or not.

 

Today Jesus did a miracle without even being asked. He saw the need: a widow had no man to take care of her livelihood, and her only hope, her son, was now dead. Jesus did not even wait to be asked. Jesus knew that she needed this, Jesus could do it because he is God, Jesus wanted to do it because he is good.

 

There are three reasons we may doubt that what we ask for will be granted by someone. When that someone is God, we can certainly doubt for the first reason, but it would be wrong to doubt for the other two.

 

1. The first reason to doubt is because we dont know if what we are asking for is good for us. “We don’t know how to pray as it is fitting.” Especially when we ask things for this world, we sometimes ask for things that are not good for our spiritual growth. We don’t know that, but God does. Some people ask for success and God does not give it to them, perhaps because God knows that success will lead them to pride, and to become an evil person. Or for other reasons, who knows. Other people receive success, because God knows that they will use it for the benefit of many people. Sometimes bad people are successful, so that good people may be tested and give witness to the truth as martyrs. Or for other reasons. But because success is fleeting, and bad people can never be happy with themselves, successful bad people are truly worthy of compassion. Where are they heading to? True success is Heaven. That is why God gives us only the success and the good things that will help us to go to heaven. No more, but no less either.

 

Thinking about Heaven is very helpful. It allows you not to despair in front of suffering and death. But it also puts the joys of life in perspective. An athlete does not eat as much as he wants sometimes, because he prefers the glory of victory in the race, rather than the fleeting pleasure of food. In the same way, we Christians enjoy life, but not in a way that would prevent us from the final victory. We must enjoy what we have as a gift, but always knowing that we are called to something much greater than this. The good things of life are like the flowers on the roadside that make the way to our holiday place more beautiful. But to stop the car to smell the flowers or to take pictures of them would be foolish, because we would be delaying the true enjoyment. The good things of life are like a golden ring that a boyfriend gives to his girlfriend: they are a promise of something much better.

 

2. When we ask God for something, we cannot doubt because of the other two reasons. We cannot doubt the omnipotence of God. The Gospel of today must be taken literally. Jesus is God, and God is the creator of the world, and God can do in the world whatever he wants. The history of the Church is full of saints who have done astonishing miracles, and still today, every time you hear that the Pope canonizes a new saint, there must be (as a rule) a miracle supported by a scientific study. For example, a healing which a commission of doctors recognizes inexplicable for science. If these miracles do not happen more often, God knows why. It may be so that we do not follow God just for his gifts, as some people did with Jesus. It may be because we dont need those gifts to go to heaven. But when God wants to do a miracle, he doesnt even need people to ask: in the Gospels, nobody asked Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead, or for the resurrection of the son of the widow. And he rose from the dead because he wanted it.

 

3. There is one more thing we cannot doubt: that God loves us. If something is good for us, there is no way that God would not give it to us, if we ask for it. But we have to ask. We have to ask with confidence: “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). There is nothing good that God will deny us because we have not been good children in the past. He gave heaven to the repentant thief. He forgave the adulterous woman and defended her from those who wanted to kill her. He forgave Peter his denials, he forgave Paul his persecutions. He gave his life for us sinners. He did not die for us because we were his friends, but because we were not. He loves us much more than we love him.

 

Therefore, we must never doubt in prayer that God is good. If something is not granted to us, it is not because God cannot do it: he is omnipotent. It is not because God does not love me: he is merciful. It is because God knows that it is not good for me now. It will not make me a better person. It will not take me to Heaven. If it is so, it is better not to have that thing.

 

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ27vFK9m8QhxXxV2wI60nrV_SmIkUPA7HNPeO9WJww5dFNO3N3I invite you to pray with confidence. Many times we dont obtain what we ask for, not because God does not want to give it to us, but because we dont pray with confidence. We cannot ask things as if we were testing God: “lets see if you are good: if you love me, give me this.” We need to ask with confidence: “I know you love me: give me this, if it is good for me. Your will be done, because there is nothing better than your plan.” May God give us great confidence in his mercy. Nothing will be denied to the one who asks confidently.  –Fr. Andrew