Message: Besides benefiting someone else having a ready explanation increases your own resolve and trust: to ask God for what you need.
We are now in our sixth week of the Easter homily series Life in Christ. That life comes to us through the sacraments and through listening to Jesus. That listening takes place in daily walk with Jesus. As we saw, he walks with his disciples by opening the Scriptures and by breaking bread - the Eucharist, the Mass. Jesus guides us like a shepherd and gives visible shepherds - the pope and bishops. For the past two Sundays we have seen that gratitude - giving thanks - is central. In some way our Life in Christ is gratitude.
This Sunday's readings invite us to take a further step - to ask. Jesus says, "I will ask the Father..." If Jesus needs to ask the Father, how much more you and me? We come to God by asking.
Some of you have learned the TARP method of prayer. The first two letters - T & A - refer to thanking and asking. If we did nothing more than thank and ask, that would be a pretty good prayer.
Sometimes we fear asking. Maybe like the young man who fears asking his girl to marry him. She might say no or laugh. But Jesus tells us to ask and we will receive, to seek and we will find, to knock and the door will be opened.
I remember once facing financial difficulties. It seemed like my parish was sinking and me with it. Someone suggested the Infant of Prague novena. I did the nine days of prayer and received an impressive answer. I didn't get adopted by Bill Gates, but Jesus did bring the relief I was looking for.
Today I have the Infant of Prague on the top shelf of my office. The Child Jesus reminds me: Ask and you shall received. Of course start with gratitude. Acknowledge what God has already given you, then place your most pressing needs before him. And don't forget others who may be in more distress than you. Ask.
To ask involves trust. In our second reading we have something that will help increase our trust. St. Peter says, "Be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you a reason for your hope."
Being ready to give an explanation will strengthen one's own resolve. For example someone might ask why you go to church. Let me suggest some reasons, some talking points.
You could say, "to hear God's Word and receive Jesus in Communion." That's a good comprehensive response, but you want something snappier. Here are some simple talking points:
Life is strange and I need all the help I can get.
I'm in a marathon - if don't train, I won't make the finish line.
I'm part of a family: I need them and they need me.
In the bulletin I put a list of top ten reasons to go to Mass. The point is if you have an explanation ready it will not only help someone else; it will help your resolve.
We need resolve. When we worked our way through Matthew Kelly's Resisting Happiness we saw how resistance stops us from doing things we know are important: exercise, eating right, getting to bed and getting up early. These things make a difference, but how much more important are daily prayer and weekly Mass - Keeping the Lord's Day!
So have an explanation ready: Life is strange, I need all the help I can get. I'm running a marathon. I'm part of a family. Having an explanation ready will strengthen your resolve.
If you fumble to find an answer, don't worry. Pick one simple explanation. Mine is "I need all the help I can get." Or to put it another way: He is God and I am not.
Besides benefiting someone else, having a ready explanation increases your own resolve and trust: to ask God for what you need.
Remember the example of Jesus. He tells us he will ask the Father and the Father will give us the greatest gift. We will hear about that gift over the next two weekends. It is essential to Life in Christ.
For today consider that asking - like thanking - will increase your trust. Put your most pressing need before Jesus. Ask and you will receive. Amen.
From Archives (Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru