Pray with Confidence -Homily June 5, 2016
“But why does God not listen to me?”
If we ask someone for
are three reasons we may doubt that we will obtain
what we want. The first is that we don’t know if the other person also thinks that
we need that. If you go to your boss to ask for a raise, you don’t know if he also thinks that
this is a good idea. It may depend on the finances of the firm, and you don’t know them. So, you don’t 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 don’t know if the other person
has the power or the ability to do what we ask for. The third reason, we don’t 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 don’t
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
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
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 don’t
need those gifts to go to heaven. But when God wants to do a miracle, he doesn’t 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
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.
I invite you to pray with confidence.
Many times we don’t
obtain what we ask for, not because God does not want to give it to us, but
because we don’t
pray with confidence. We cannot ask things as if we were testing God: “let’s 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.