Friday June 28, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Kings 25:1-12) Gospel (St. Matthew 8:1-4)
In this Gospel reading today, we hear the leper coming to the Lord and saying, "If You wish, You can make me clean," and the Lord says, "I will it." But there are two parts to this. We see the will of the Lord to be able to cleanse this man, but we also see the faith of the man who came asking to be healed - and that is critical. Nothing is going to happen on just one side, not that the Lord does not have the power to do whatever He wants, but the Lord is not ever going to violate our free will. So there has to be that point on our behalf where we are making that act of the will to say, "I trust that the Lord can do this." That is what this man was willing to do. He went before the Lord, did Him homage, and said to Him, "If You will to do so, You can heal me." He had total faith that the Lord could do this.
Now most of us will sit back and say, "Well, of course, we know God is all-powerful; He can do anything that He wants. But I'm not sure He wants to do this for me." Nothing is going to happen because we really do not have the faith that He is going to do what it is that He has promised He will do. We come before Him; we do Him homage; and we will even be willing to go so far as this man did and say, "Well, if You want to, I guess You can heal me. You're God; You can do whatever You want." But the fact is, we do not have the faith this man had to actually be healed or to have our prayers answered because we really do not believe it is going to happen, and so we wind up hedging and finding an "out" for the Lord so that when it does not happen it is okay because we kind of gave Him that out anyway. Why do we think something is going to happen when we go into the prayer assuming that nothing will happen? Where is our faith? Where is our confidence in the Lord that He is going to answer our prayers?
When you look at the great saints, they did not doubt when they prayed. They asked for things that most of us would not have the audacity to even think of asking of God, and they got them because of the faith and the love with which they asked. If we have that same kind of faith, that same kind of love, we will also get whatever it is that we want. Saint James says, "The reason why your prayers are not answered is because you ask wrongly." It is a fact that we need to make sure, first of all, that what we are asking for is in line with the Will of God, but secondly, that we are asking in a right manner. And that right manner is faith and proper love for God, to have that confidence in the Lord that He has made the promises and He will fulfill them. We simply need to trust that. That is very, very hard for us to do, and that is something all of us need to work at.
We need to be confident in the love of God. We need to be confident in the promises of the Lord. And we need to have confidence in Him so that as we come before Him in prayer we have our hearts in the right disposition, and that we will ask the Lord with confidence and out of love - not for selfish gain, not for any kind of wrongful purpose, not in any kind of wrong manner of asking - but rather, asking out of love, with total confidence, and placing our prayers before the Lord, without doubting, without hesitating, going forth in complete faith and confidence and trusting in the Lord that He will do what He has promised.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.