5th Sunday of Easter B - Homily 2

Homily 2 - 2009

Did you hear that Second Reading this morning where it said: Whatever we ask him we shall receive?  And then, in a similar vein, the Gospel promised: You may ask what you will and you shall get it.

What do you make of that?  Has that been your experience?  Whatever you asked God, you received?

Well, perhaps it's a case of: “It's all in the fine print!”

What the Epistle actually said was: ... whatever we ask him, we shall receive, because we keep his commandments and live the kind of life that he wants.  His commandments are these: that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and that we love one another.

Does that mean that there is a condition attached to the promise? We have to be good – as the Epistle said: we have to keep his commandments.

That seems to let God off the hook - and it puts the pressure on us.  If we don't keep his commandments, there is no guarantee that our prayer will be answered.

I don't see it that way.  As I look back over my life, I see that often the things that I prayed for were things that expressed my surface desires.  Often enough, they reflected my petty addictions; they came from my selfishness - my own self-interest.  They came from the unredeemed part of me.

I wanted them because I didn't trust God - I didn't trust God's loving care and providence.  I had to give God a nudge, a reminder, in case he didn't seem to notice my priorities.

Really, I wasn't acting in line with his commandments.  As the Epistle went on to say: his commandments are only two, and are really quite clear: believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another.

Believe in ...  that is, trust in, entrust myself to, entrust my life and my needs to ...  the name of Jesus, the essential reality of Jesus, the fact that Jesus loves me passionately, intimately, and always, and doesn't get distracted.

If I really believe that, that affects radically the things that I pray for.  It cuts most of them off at the socks!

My prayer changes.  The kinds of things that I pray for, that I yearn for, become the kinds of things God yearns for, too.

I even begin, honestly and freely, to love others - because I want to.

Those are precisely the things that God wants, that God wants me to want, that God leads me to want – honestly.

God has been waiting all along for me to want them, for me, finally, to cooperate in his dreams for me, his dreams for others, his dreams for our world.  That's why God will grant them.

But there is something more.  What are God's dreams for me, for others, and for our world?  Do I know what they are? – for sure?

This is where today's Gospel sheds some light.  There, Jesus said: If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you shall get it.

If you remain in me ...  That seems to presume an amount of time.  It takes time to know him well.  It takes time for his words really to sink in, and for his message to click.  It takes time to share in his dreams for me, his dreams for others, and his dreams for our world.  

When we are first converted, and we begin to discover the wonder of his love, we want to do great things for God.  In our enthusiasm, we want to prove our love.  But the driving force is “us” - It's our Ego that's in control.

However, I think that … if we remain in him and his words remain in us, then, over time, the ground seems to change again.  Rather than presuming that I know what God wants (and doing it), I learn to wait.

What becomes important is not to do great things for God - (my great things for God), but to seek to know and to do simply what God wants: Thy will be done!

And I don't necessarily know what that might be in practice.  I need to be still, to discern, and to be tentative.  To the extent that I really tune in to that, to the extent that I really want that, then, finally, I begin to co-operate in the work, not of me, but of God.