May 23, 2020 – Saturday of the 6th Week of Easter
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052320.cfm)
What do I usually ask and pray?
We have realized how Covid-19 brought us so much difficulties these days. During the Enhanced Community Quarantine, the world seemed to stop spinning. Our movements have been halted and so our economic/financial concerns also heightened. As more and more infected cases were confirmed we have become so worried. Perhaps others have come to the point of paranoia for fear of being infected. And for those who have been infected, and succumbed to death, most surely, they have been more embattled by fear and uncertainty.
Hence, these must have been the concerns that we bring up now to God in our prayers. These are evident in the countless comments and prayer requests we received in our Facebook page (@OMPHRedemptoristDavao).
We believe in the power of prayer and many of us can testify how God pours His blessings and graces to a prayerful heart. Moreover, Jesus told his disciples in today’s Gospel to “ask anything in my name and you will receive.” Really? Anything? 🙂
Hmmm, what does it really mean?
Does Jesus mean that we can just ask anything we want? Does it mean that I can also ask Jesus to give me a lifetime premium subscription on Netflix with an unlimited supply of popcorn and bottomless four-season juice drink? Or can I also ask a top managerial position in a company though I don’t have the qualification? And then expect that everything will certainly be given to me? Or to make the virus disappear by tomorrow and to bring the world back as it was before the virus came?
Some of my close friends shared with me that at some point in their life, they felt that God was unfair to them. They have earnestly asked God to grant their prayers and so they visited Churches as many as they could. They would attend the mass faithfully and did novenas to the Saints. They would do these so that God may hear their prayers and their wish will be granted. However, those prayers were unanswered. Consequently, feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, guilt for the sins committed and even disappointment and being upset may arise. This may lead to a spiritual confusion believing that God is not fair.
However, we might not be aware also that what we are praying could be filled with selfish reasons. Our prayers might be more focused on ourselves, on what “I shall have and on what I can gain.” Then, our prayer remains self-centered.
Today, Jesus tells us to ask and to pray “in his name.” The beauty here lies in the prayer that considers the desire of God for us. It means that in our prayer we do not forget Jesus, we do not forget his desire for us and his will for us.
Jesus did not say to just ask anything because he, then, would merely be a magician or a genie in a bottle or like an automated money dispenser. Jesus tells us “to ask anything in his name.”
Our prayer, then, includes a discernment of God’s will for me and of God’s desire for me. God is not a mere “dispenser” like a machine or a “biometric device” that records our time-in and out to record how much time we spent in our novenas and rosaries. However, God is a person who wants us that he becomes part of our thoughts, of our decisions and actions.
Thus, in the Gospel, the disciples had actually already prayed. They asked God many things. However, their prayers were also filled with their own desires and personal wants. This was the reason why Jesus said, “until now you have not asked anything in my name…” The self-centered prayers and requests to God did not make the disciples joyful and contented. They remained insecure and lacking in faith because they did not ask in Jesus’ name.
Instead of praying – “this is what I want and wish Lord,” ask and pray rather first in this way, “what is your desire for me Lord?” Only then that we will be able to get away from our selfish tendencies and intentions because we shift our focus from ourselves to God – from praying that comes only from personal wants to praying in his name.
Certainly, God will never say no to a sincere heart that seeks His desire. Jesus will answer our prayers when our hearts and minds are one with him. As we continue to brawl in this time of pandemic, we may also discover more God’s desire for us in our troubles and in our prayers. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR