+ HOMILY for Saturday of the 6th Week of Easter
Jesus begins this morning’s Gospel with a rather sweeping statement: Whatever you ask the
Father in my name, he will give you. The question is: who is Jesus speaking to when he says you,
these people who will be given whatever they ask for from the Father?
Jesus himself identifies them at the end of this Gospel: the Father himself loves you, because
you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. There is some connection
between those who love and believe in Jesus, and those who are given whatever they ask for from
the Father in Jesus’ name.
St Gregory the Great explains the connection in a famous story he tells about St Scholastica,
the sister of St Benedict. Her brother set out with a few of his monks to visit her one day, and he and
Scholastica were talking about the spiritual life until it got to be very late. As Gregory tells us,
Scholastica said to her brother: “Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking
about the joys of heaven”. But Benedict said he had to get back to the monastery.
So Scholastica joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and prayed to almighty
God. And God knew just what would work in that situation: a shelter-in-place order. So as soon as
Scolastica raised her head, a violent storm broke out with thunder and lightning, and such a
downpour of rain that St Benedict and his companions couldn’t set foot outside the door of the place
where they had been sitting. Contrary to the opinion of a certain governor, science didn’t do that;
God did. Benedict was annoyed, but Scholastica told him, “I asked you, but you wouldn’t listen; I
asked my God, and he did listen. Just go out the door now if you like, and get back to your
monastery”. So Benedict relented. After all, the rulers and governors of the earth belong to God, to
God who – um – “reigns” over all, and can send a downpour when science least expects it. So
Benedict and Scholastica spent the whole night talking together about spiritual things, and both of
them profited from it.
St Gregory goes on to make a comment about this story that relates it directly with this
morning’s Gospel. He says, “That the nun should have prevailed over the monk is not surprising, for
since, as St John says, God is love, it was only right that the one who loved more should be able to
achieve more”. The moral of the story is: even if you’re obliged to stay at home, become a more
loving person, and whatever you ask the Father in Jesus’ name, he will give you.