Bishop William Shomali Dunboyne 4 June 2011
John Chapter 16: 23-28
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I tell you most solemnly ,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.
Until now you have not asked anything in my name;
ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
I have told you this in figures of speech.
The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures
but I will tell you clearly about the Father.
On that day you will ask in my name,
and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you.
For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me
and have come to believe that I came from God.
I came from the Father and have come into the world.
Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.
Homily Notes delivered by Most Rev'd William Shomaly, auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem in Dunboyne on Saturday 4 June, 2011.
I feel privileged to be with you today. I came on the occasion of the meeting of the international delegates in preparation of the Eucharistic Congress of Dublin in 2012, representing the Holy Land and the Arab countries. I am grateful to your Lieutenant Nicholas McKenna for the organisation of this Mass and for his exquisite hospitality. He came twice from Belfast to meet me with many hours drive. I convey to you the best wishes and gratitude of our Patriarch Fouad Twal who will come for the investitures in July. I thank each of you and everyone for the strong support you continue to give to the Holy Land and the Latin Patriarchate.
Allow me to go now straight to the Holy Gospel of today to see what the Lord wants to tell us.
It speaks about the power of the name of Jesus:
"If you ask anything from the Father in my name, he will give you."
It is the best good news that we can ever hear. Whatever we ask from the father in the name of Jesus, we will be granted. What is the meaning of the name of Jesus.
- The name of Christ gives value to our seemingly insignificant actions: "If anyone gives you a glass of water in my name because you belong to Christ, truly I say to you that will not lose his reward."
- The sacraments of the church are administered in the name of Jesus: "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
- The proclamation of the Gospel and the signs that accompanied it happened in the same name. Before healing of the paralytic, "Peter said to him: "I have neither silver nor gold, but what I give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk ! '
What is the meaning of "praying in the name of Jesus?"
It means to ask our Father whatever we want through his mediation and because of him. For this reason the liturgy of the Catholic Church addresses all our prayers to the father and ends them by the traditional expression: Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Concluding the prayer in this way is like signing a letter and putting a stamp on it, and therefore giving it full power. The value of a letter comes from the value of the person who signs it. If we want to write a letter to the Holy Father, it has a different value, depending on whether it is anonymous or if it signed by a child, an adult, a parish priest, a bishop, an archbishop or the secretary of State.
It happened to me that I wrote a letter, in the 1980s, to Mr Moral Duplat, the representative of the European Union in Jerusalem. We were asking him to fund a project. He had previously invited us to make the request and promised to make a recommendation by putting his name at the bottom of our letter then to send it to Brussels. When we visited him in his office in Jerusalem, he opened the letter, read it and signed it with a big smile that could not go unnoticed. Asking him why he smiled, he answered: "After one month, I will be in Brussels, replacing the high commissioner of the European Union. I am now the signatory of the letter but I will also be the person who will have the charge of giving the final answer."
This is our situation with Jesus. Whenever we pray in his name, he puts his signature on the request and carries our message to the father by himself. As he is beloved by the Father and that he participates in his essence, whatever he wants he obtains from Him. For this reason we should trust that whatever we ask through Him will be granted.
There is still an objection:
We often doubt that our prayers are heard. Why my prayer does not always get what I ask for? Jesus tells us the condition:
1. We have to ask with humbleness, as a child asks his father. " God the Father hears the prayer of the child, the poor, of the sick, the one who makes himself small, humble and hides in the palm of his hand, sure of being heard. A humble prayer is always answered. If it is not answered it is because I am proud and the Lord opposes the proud.
2. Jesus obtains from the Father because he loves him and because he makes his will. This condition applies to us today. If we do love Jesus, we follow his commandments. Christ is the infinite ocean in which the Father pours out his love. Who is in Christ is overwhelmed by this love. Remains always our fulfilling the commandments of the Lord as sign of our love to him.
The same objection can be done in another way: we are praying for peace in the Holy Land since years, the same for the Christian unity. Neither peace nor unity seems to be close. Why?
n Without those prayers, our situation would have been worse. If pilgrims can still come to the Holy Land despite the fact that the conflict is not solved since 80 years, it is because of the prayer of millions of people. We have to continue to pray.
n On the other hand, the Lord's measurement of time is different from ours. One thousand years in his eyes are like one day says the psalm 90. It means that the 5 minutes of the Lord may be 10 years. We have to trust that the Lord will answer us quickly, but according to his own measurement of time. This delay is because he wants us to be ready to receive his gifts. The delay comes from our unreadiness more than from his intention to make us suffer.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Gospel of today brings to us good news and asks us to continue to pray with confidence. In it there is a reproach. We do not ask enough and we do not ask with the absolute confidence of the little sons towards their father. We may not take seriously the saving power and the tremendous power of the name of Christ.
From today on let us pay more attention to every prayer we raise to the father in the liturgy or privately through Christ our Lord.
I would like to conclude by making reference to the event of the healing of the impotent by the saving power of the name of Jesus:
After the healing of the impotent man in Jerusalem Peter declared:
9If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Amen"