Deacon Steven M. Johnson – St. James Church, Belvidere, IL
Homily for 1st Week of Lent, Thursday, 2-25-21, Year B
Readings: 1st Est C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Gospel Mt 7:7-23
Theme: God’s Love for Us
Lent is not only a time for repentance from our sins, but also a time for asking God for what troubles us. Yes, we want to take this time to think about how we have been acting, what we have not done so well, and how we can improve. We need to ponder the scriptures and come to know what God’s Will is for us and then change our wants to meet that will.
This is all good and what we need to do, especially during Lent. But what do we do once we have pondered and figured things out about ourselves and our relationship with God? We ask Him for something, right? We ask for His forgiveness and the strength and wisdom to change what is not working in our lives according to His Will. We go to confession and we tell God about our deficiencies and poor behavior, and then we ask him to forgive us of these things. He then wipes the slate clean and we can begin anew.
But our asking of God to help us should not end there. It is good that we have cleaned up our act and have righted ourselves with God, but that should not be the end of it. Other than our sins, there are many things in our lives we need God’s help to overcome, endure, or sacrifice for.
The message in both readings today is about God’s great love for us. He so loves us that He waits for us to come to Him in sincerity, humility, and awe to ask Him for His help. Whether it be relief from a habit, healing from sickness or health issues, strengthening of our faith, protection, guidance, relief from loneliness or separation, desire to be loved, a job, or the many other things that concern us every day. God cannot wait to provide an answer to these prayers. All we have to do is ask, seek, and knock.
Yet we should not ask, seek, or knock if we do not have respect, sincerity, and a deep love for God in our request. Is our need steeped in humility and for the good of our soul and that of our neighbor, or is it vane and to promote our stature above others? Is our request one to help a stranger or provide for our family, or is it for earthly things like material goods and money, or a position of power and authority to lord it over others?
Is our request asked in such a way that we will accept God’s answer no matter what that answer may be because we know that is God’s will for us?
How and what we ask for should be carefully considered and framed in God’s Will and Jesus’s teaching. God does not deny us our petitions if asked in a sincere and loving way, as a child asks their parents for help, one that comes from a total and complete trust that the parents will take care of their needs.
Today’s readings teach us that God’s love for us is so great, He will answer our sincere prayers just like He did for Esther. Jesus reminds us to not be afraid to ask our Father for help like Esther did. Jesus also reminds us that we may just be the answer to someone else’s prayer when we do to others whatever we would have them do to us.
Remember, God’s answer may not always be what we are expecting. There are many doors that can be opened to us. If the door we think we need to knock on is large with stained glass windows, a silver handle and gilded with gold, we may be disappointed when it does not open for us. But if we are open to God’s Will, a simple plain door with a brass handle down the hall will open. Hopefully, we will be humble enough to enter that door and find what we are looking for.