Wednesday, March 1, 2023

What do we ask from God? Homily for Thursday of the first week of Lent 2023

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Today’s readings are all about conversing with God, and these conversations are about asking God for things. In the Gospel, Jesus recognizes that God is our provider. He will provide us whatever we ask from him, because he knows what we need, and because he is like a Father (or Mother) who want to give to their children what is best for them.

So what do we ask for from God?

Most of the time our requests are predictable. God, give me a vehicle. God, give me a bungalow. God, give me a wife. And once we get these things, the response is also predictable, we forget about God. We forget about him until it is once again time to ask for some more material benefits – good health, saving from trouble.

But are we asking Him for what really matters? I would argue not. We ask him for things that the Devil would be happy to provide, because these are the things that could draw us away from a deep and healthy relationship with God. We should be happy, in a relationship with God, even when we do not have health, money, material success.

So what should we ask from God? The verse before the Gospel makes it clear what we should be asking for:

A clean heart create for me, O God;
give me back the  joy of your salvation.

We need to ask for a clean heart, a heart that can – as Jesus instructs us in the Gospel – Do to others whatever you would have them do to you, a clean heart which will as Queen Esther prays to God “turn our mourning into gladness, and our sorrows into wholeness." This is to say that even if we are in a situation of mourning, and sorrow, we will have joy in our heart, because we will know how close we are to God.

And how should we ask for this clean heart? The reading from the book of Esther, shows us how, by lying prostrate upon the ground… from morning until evening” recognizing that we are “alone and have no one but you”.

This is not to say that we should actually be physically prostrate on the ground the whole day – this is not a bad thing, to fall on our knees before God – but we should be prostrate in our hearts, using every spare moment to thank God for his goodness to us.

Let us, therefore, spend the day, just repeating this phrase whenever we have a free moment.

A clean heart create for me, O God;
give me back the  joy of your salvation.

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