Dominica Quinta post Pascha/Fifth Sunday after Easter: May 26, 2019
Delivered by Most Reverend Roger LaRade, O.F.A.
Beloved Disciple Eucharistic Catholic Church, Toronto
James 1: 22 – 27; John 16, 23 – 30.
Praying and Living God’s Will
During His time with His disciples, Jesus tried to explain to them the relationship between Himself and God the Father. This explanation continues in the Gospel passage for the Fifth Sunday after Easter which we have just heard.
As Jesus speaks to His disciples, we hear Him say to us: “Truly, I assure you, whatever you ask the Father, He will give you in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you shall receive that your joy may be complete.”
What does it mean for us to hear these words today? What does it mean for us to pray “in Jesus’ name”?
I think that often this is thought of in a magical way, which for many is what the miraculous represents. For many, prayer is often thought of as a reaching out to God in a time of personal suffering. Some pray to God in Jesus’ name for a job, for prosperity, to pass an exam, to be liked by someone. The examples are endless. Can we really believe that this is why Jesus died: To open the floodgates of a ‘Santa Claus’ God? I don’t believe so.
And yet, we hear in today’s Gospel Jesus tell us that as long as we formulate our prayer – a prayer for anything – “in Jesus’ name”, we have a better chance – well, some would say, the assurance – that our prayer will be granted.
Here is what a favourite commentator of mine says about praying in the name of Jesus:
To ask in Christ’s name means nothing else than to ask in Christ, to ask with the power and being he has as the Father’s son, whose petition will always find audience because it is wholly in harmony with the will of the Father; ‘Lord, thy will be done.’
In this is revealed the meaning of Jesus saying that to see Him is to see the Father. And for Jesus, this harmony of wills means nothing other – nothing more – than to ask that the world come to know God’s justice; that is, to live according to God’s justice, to make God’s justice real in our world. Saint Basil the Great, in preaching on prayer, says the following:
Prayer is not made perfect by uttering syllables…but in the purpose of the soul, and in the just actions of a lifetime…in deeds of virtue extending into every action and moment of our life.
So, first and foremost, our prayer is a prayer to do as God wills. Our prayer, for whatever need, and even if made in Jesus’ name, is worthless unless it is made from a spirit and a life of justice. Our commentator offers that our prayer in Christ’s name is this:
To ask in Christ’s name means to ask for faith and love, patience, loyalty, humility, and growing self-devotion.
In these is the hallmark of God’s justice.
To ask in Christ’s name then is to seek the kingdom of God, and to do so is to seek for justice; “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and God’s justice, and all the rest will be given you besides”, as we read in the Gospel of Saint Matthew (6, 33). We can do this because in Christ’s rising from the dead and ascending to Heaven, the Spirit is given to us. This living Spirit has its dwelling place in us, and makes us bold enough to pray in Jesus’ name that God’s will for justice be done.
This prayer, therefore, isn’t a magical prayer; it isn’t a prayer of convenience, a prayer for selfish needs. No. This prayer in Jesus’ name is a prayer that God’s justice may increasingly be realized in our lives, in our world; that Jesus’ will in harmony with God’s will be our will.
As we look forward to the celebration of the Ascension on Thursday of this week, let us remember that it is in this act of rising from the dead and ascending into Heaven, that Jesus’ mission as a human person ends and His eternal mission as the Second Person of the Trinity continues. This mission itself involves our prayer for the coming of God’s reign of justice, a prayer not only of words spoken in Jesus’ name, but also of a life lived day-by-day in the name of Jesus, the Son of Justice; a life lived in harmony to God’s will.
This constitutes the post-Resurrection vision which we have been exploring these past several Sundays: a vision of a new way of being in the world; a new beginning brought about by the sending of the Holy Spirit. Today, we see that this post-Resurrection understanding points to living a life of faith based on God’s will for justice. This realization comes to us through our reception of the Holy Spirit, which opens our minds and our hearts. It is this Grace-filled experience which transforms our vision and our understanding. With this new vision and new understanding, we see our life and our world with the eyes of God, eyes saddened by injustice, eyes seeking out justice.
The Church in this season of Easter, in this time when Resurrection is followed by Christ’s Ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, calls us to rejoice and partake in the harmonious will of God the Father and God the Son. Let us pray for one another that our post-Resurrection vision of God’s will for justice may be deepened and become the center of our prayer in Jesus’ name.
Let us also, during this month of May, the month of Mary, pray to Holy Mary, the Mother of God, she who unreservedly accepted God’s Spirit into Her life and heart; let us pray that she may help us to receive, give birth and nurture God’s will for justice in our own hearts and lives. We pray:
Ave, Maria, grátia plena; Dóminus tecum: benedícta tu in muliéribus et benedíctus fructus ventris tui, Jesu. Sancta María, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatóribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.
 Aemiliana Löhr, The Mass through the Year: Volume Two – Holy Week to the Last Sunday after Pentecost (London: Longmans, Green & Co. Ltd., 1959), p. 132.
 M. F. Toal, D.D., The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers: Volume Two – From the First Sunday in Lent to the Sunday after the Ascension (London: Longmans, Green & Co. Ltd., 1964), p. 383.
 Löhr, op. cit., p. 132.
Our blog offers information on our monthly liturgical services, special events, news, and donation requests for our church and missions. It will also contain homilies for reading or printing.