Bottom line: Ask God to help you understand what you really want. And it will be done for you. Ask boldly. And like St. Paul, act boldly in the name of the Lord.
Today's readings describe the boldness of faith. The first reading tells about a new convert named Saul, who would later become known as Paul. Even as a relatively young Christian he "spoke boldly in the name of the Lord." St. John tells us that if we keep the commandments and do what pleases God, we will "receive from him whatever we ask." Jesus says pretty much the same thing in the Gospel: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you."
Let me tell you about a woman who asked boldly. Her bold request came in the middle of a crisis. She was pregnant with her second child, but it seemed the baby had come at the worst possible moment. Her finances were terrible and communication with the baby's dad even worse. She was seriously considering an abortion. However, she remembered seeing someone wearing the Precious Feet pin. It represents the feet of a child at ten weeks of gestation – about a third of an inch long but with perfectly formed miniature toes. She reflected that her unborn child had such feet and she decided, in spite of all difficulties, that she would have her baby.
Difficulties did come. Several months later the doctor told her that she had placenta previa, a condition which "may cause serious morbidity and mortality to both child and mother."
But God never sends a test without also giving grace to meet it. That evening the young mom began to pray. God inspired her to speak to her unborn child. Placing her hand above her womb, she said she was sorry for her initial reaction and that now was thankful for the beautiful gift – and would do all she could to protect and care for her little one.
On her next visit to the doctor, she learned the placenta had returned to where it belonged.
This is a true story.* It illustrates the power of prayer. Ask boldy. Ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
The story also illustrates why bold prayer has such power. We can see in the mother and her unborn child an intimate union – physical, emotional and spiritual. In fact there is no earthly bond more intimate than that of a mother and the child growing within her.
Nevertheless, as baptized Christians, you and I have a bond with Jesus even more intimate than a mother and her tiny child. Like the mother who nourishes the unborn child with her own blood, Jesus sustains us:
Most people sense a potential within themselves, something they could be or do - which is not being realized. Only by remaining in Jesus can we become that person. "Without me you can do nothing." But united with him we can achieve something incredible – bring glory to the Father. (Jn 15:8)
Not that we are so great or so strong or so beautiful in ourselves. But the life that flows from Jesus makes all the difference. If we allow it to enter our souls, if we do not cut it off by bitterness, then "ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you." The problem is that most of what we ask for is small potatoes – finances, safety, health, vindication, emotional well-being, etc. Those things are wonderful, but why not ask for something really big?
Let me make a comparison. Many people - especially in the Northwest - think about Bill Gates and how he could solve their financial problems. Well, suppose that Bill Gates said to me, "I like you, ask me whatever you want." If I were smart, I don't think I would ask him for stock options or even for a hundred million dollars. Better to say, "Bill, could you make me a member of your family?" If he considered me his father or his older brother, I could propose any project or need to him.
It is the same with God. If he tells you to ask for anything, would you say, "please let me win the lottery?" What you should really ask for is to become his true son or daughter. Consider that God made all the galaxies. Astronomers tell us there are a hundred billion of them, each with about a hundred billion stars. And God has given our planet an astonishing abundance. Next to what God possesses, the greatest human fortune is like a dust particle.
But there is more. When the mightiest star has finally burned out, God will still exist. His glory will continue to shine. May you and I be part of that glory!
Ask God to help you understand what you really want. And it will be done for you. Ask boldly. And like St. Paul, act boldly in the name of the Lord. Amen.
*I know the mom and accompanied her during the pregnancy.
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