January 7, 2012 - Christmas Weekday

Today's Readings

What is the point of asking God to do something that he wants to do? St. John says that God listens to our prayers when we ask anything according to his will. To understand this we have to consider that nature of asking. When we ask a fellow human for something, we are implicitly claiming to know better than they do. When I ask someone to pass the salt, I am telling them that I know better than they do about whether I should have salt. When I ask someone to join me for dinner on Tuesday night, I am telling them that I know better than they do about we should do Tuesday night. When I ask, I am suggesting, and to suggest is to propose what is good.

So with God, there really is no point in asking, since he always knows better than I do. If it would be good for something to happen, God knows that already. There is no information that I can supply him. There is no perspective that I can offer. In this way, asking God for something is the opposite of asking a human. When I ask a human for something, I am trying to impose my will on them, ever so gently, yet that is what I am doing. When I ask God for something, I am trying to impose his will on me.

Consider Mary. She does not even ask her son for anything. She simply tells him, “They have no wine.” Did he already know that? Clearly. He is at the same party she is. Even if he did not know it as God who knows everything, he certainly knew it as a human with two eyes in his head.

God knows all about the needs of the world. He knows about the poor and the homeless and the hungry and hurting. He knows about your Aunt Sally and your son too. He sees all the pain and suffering in the whole world, but do you? Are you observant? Are you aware?

When Mary tells Jesus that the party has run out of wine, she is proving that she is attuned to the needs of others. This is the form that our prayers ought to take. When we pray, we ought to look out on the world and see with the eyes of God and then be united to God in our common concern for the sinners.