Why I Believe God Exists

(Homily for Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C)

Bottom line: I believe in God because he answers prayers. If you wonder whether God really exists, try prayer.

If someone asked me why I believe in God, I would reply: Faith is a gift. It depends on God's initiative, his free grace. Still, there are good reasons to believe that God exists. Even if you cannot prove the existence of God in the way you can prove the existence of the city of Bellingham, it is not unreasonable to believe in him. But, you know, if I was to give the real reason why I believe in God, I would have to say this: I believe in God because he answers prayers. If you wonder whether God really exists, try prayer.

Jesus tells us: Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

You may have heard about Anthony Destefano's book Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To. The first prayer is "God, show me that you exist." God wants to enter into a relationship with us. He wants to answer our prayers. Now, God does not respond, "yes," to every prayer. I might say to him, "Please fix the oil leak in my car." Well, he could do it, but he has also set up natural means to deal with such a problem.* On the other hand, there are things - things which are much more important - that he wants you and me to place before him:

--"Dear God, help me in my relationship with that person."

--"Show me, Lord, what you want me to do today - and give me the strength to do it."

--"Please, Jesus, help me have peace in my heart. And while you are at it, help me get my finances in order."

When I make those kinds of prayers, I am laying my heart and life before God. I have found over and over again that he answers those prayers in ways that are uncanny and surprising. Try God. You have tried everything else. Try God. Jesus says: Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Jesus wants us to pray not only for our personal needs, but for others. If you are like me, you probably tell people that you will pray for them. I wonder how often we follow through. I was moved when I read about how Pope John Paul II prayed. He had a drawer on his kneeler and when he opened it, there were various pieces of paper that he had written down prayer requests. He took them out and looked through them as he prayed.** It really made me think. If the pope can pray for people by name, how about me? Since then I have tried to immediately say an Our Father or some other short prayer and if possible to make a note. The best thing you and I can do for the other person is to offer a prayer for them.

When we intercede for others, we should imitate Abraham's boldness. He prayed for a city caught up in unnatural vices, not unlike cities today. At first it sounds almost like he is bargaining with God, but that is not the case. He is simply making a bold, direct request. He says that even though he is nothing more than "dust and ashes," still he presumes to speak to God. In the Mass the celebrant says that because Jesus taught us to call God our Father, we have courage to say... The Latin is Audemus dicere, We dare to say. Imitate Abraham: Pray boldly...but not in a demanding way.

It would be crazy to bargain with God as if we have something to give him in exchange. It would be like me waking up some morning thinking, "I'll ask Bill Gate for a favor." So I go and empty my savings account and drive over to Medina. Somehow I get Bill Gates' attention and I hold up a hundred dollars, "Bill, look what I brought you. I need to talk to you." He might smile to himself, but surely he would think, "I have hundreds of millions of dollars. I don't need a hundred dollars from Father Bloom."

Well, something similar applies to God, only the difference is even more extreme. Everything we have comes from God and belongs to him. Still there is something God wants from us. He wants us to draw near to him. He wants to give us everything valuable; everything which has beauty, power and goodness. In a word, God wants us to have himself. For that reason Jesus says: Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

**********

*Not that we shouldn't pray for natural phenomena such as weather. Back in the 50's, a severe drought afflicted the people of the Southwest. Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson suggested to the governor of Texas that he call a day of fasting and prayer. Within three days a two-inch rainfall came, prompting a local paper to say that Secretary Benson "has contacts that are literally out of this world." The New York Times Magazine ran a long article entitled "Benson: Prayer, Persuasion and Parity." Benson, a highly controversial politician, later became President of the Mormon Church. When he died in 1994, President Clinton gave an interesting tribute. I mention this story not as any endorsement of Mormonism, but as an illustration of the efficacy of prayer.

**From Peggy Noonan's, John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father (a worthwhile book, although I agree with the reviewer who observed that she seemed too caught up in the media's view of "the scandal.")

Spanish Version

From Archives (17th Sunday, Year C):

2013: Call to Faith - Pope Francis
2010: Try God
2007: Why I Believe God Exists
2004: Persistence Pays
2001: Lord, Teach Us To Pray
1998: Prayer of Intercession

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Sunday: Homilies

Bulletin (Pending Projects, Injustice at U.S. Embassy, Prayers for Melanie)

Announcements

Jesuit pastor responds to media reports that the pope is "bringing back the old Latin Mass."

Mark Shea, guest columnist in the Seattle P-I:

On July 10, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church," a document stating the absolutely-not-new fact that, yes, the Church does believe it is the Church Christ founded and that other Christian bodies are right insofar as they agree and with and preserve Catholic teachings and practice and wrong insofar as they reject or add to them.

St. Mary of the Valley Album

(July of 2010)

From Al Kresta: Evangelical group releases documentary on the pill as an abortifacient

Live Action: Indiana Planned Parenthood Caught On Tape Giving Fabricated Medical Information

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

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