May the peace of Christ Reign in our heart,
God has a funny sense of humor. Last week I was sitting in my rocker on the stoop and a man walking his dog went by.
We started talking as is often the case.
He was very friendly and of course the conversation quickly went to religion.
The gentleman was Catholic but doesn’t go to Church and he told me point blank why when he said...
“I don’t go to Church because all you priests talk about is love,
love this and love that....
It just gets old that’s all...
you heard it once you heard it a hundred times.”
I listened politely and then I went back into the friary to read the Gospel for this Sunday... and low and behold “agape” John the evangelist’s’ favorite word for love is mentioned 7 times in today’s Gospel...
And so I decided I better speak about prayer.
Toward the end of today’s Gospel Jesus says,
“Whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”
Obviously Jesus is talking about prayer...
When we speak to God,
when we give God glory or praise,
when we ask God anything we are praying.
And the only reason we pray is because we know that God loves us and we understand that God’s love like God Himself is forever.
God’s love like God is infinite.
God’s love is not like our love.
It does not depend on God’s mood.
It is not dependent on how we act.
It does not grow cold or hot.
It is our knowledge of God’s love for us that allows us to be filled with hope,
hope for better lives,
hope for holier lives.
A prayer uttered without any hope of being heard
or answered by God is a prayer that can never be fulfilled.
But as we learned from another Gospel passage, faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that there is more to prayer than just asking and receiving.
In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds us to make our requests in His name.
We do this all the time when we end our prayers with a phrase like “we ask this through Christ our Lord.”
So if we must pray in Jesus’ name we can’t pray for things that Jesus would not approve of.
We can’t pray for a selfish ambition or greedy reasons.
We can’t pray that God favor us over someone else.
Obviously the Our Father or the perfect prayer teaches us that every prayer must contain a statement of trust and or surrender to God’s will.
And so every prayer must contain a statement like
“thy will be done” or “thank you for hearing my prayer” or
as St. Faustina used to say “Jesus I trust you”
“Thy will be done” means our prayer should never be our attempt to change God’s will as if we know better.
As William Barclay a biblical scholar said
with prayer we should always try to discern God’s will in our lives and accept God’s will in our lives.
Finally we must never pray as if no one else matters.
Our prayer can never be a string of self-centered requests.
Sometimes when we pray for a sunny day there is a farmer who is also loved by God just as much as God loves us prays for rain.
Only when we grow in the habit of praying for the good of all will our prayer be authentic.
Only when our interests transcend ourselves can we begin to love and call ourselves God’s friends.