Homily for the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2021
He is always able to save those who approach God through him,
since he lives forever to make intercession for them.
Why does Our Lord intercede for us, indeed even to the point that the apostle seems to make this the key goal even of his present heavenly life? He literally “lives” to pray for us, as though this were his chief occupation
After all, since he is God, why would he need to pray? He can simply command. He has the power to grant us all we need and the scriptures tell us that “he knows our needs before we ask.”
Now glorious in heaven, why does he choose to pray for us, instead of just giving us whatever he wills as our creator and God? Why should he ask? He can just do. The psalmist says, “He speaks and they are made.”
Of course, these are questions that may never have occurred to us, since as Catholics we are used to thinking of our Savior as filled with love for us, following us from heaven, and on earth in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. What is more, we are used to the idea that Our Lady and the saints join Christ in glory in praying for us.
Yet, even in the happy realities we take for granted, it is sometimes good to ask why they are as they are.
Yes, Jesus does not need to pray for us to give us the things we need in heart, mind, soul, and strength, as the Gospel lesson reminds us. He has given us so many things without our asking for them: life, grace, love, faith, and so many others. Yet he has willed that even if we do not always ask for the things we need—which he gives us anyway—still he will always ask, he will always pray, he will always intercede for our needs. This is what he “lives” to do.
So why does he ask even when he does not have to?
First, he shows his great kindness in coming down to our level as a man, and not only bestowing as God, but asking as one of us. St. Thomas tells us:
The apostle shows the excellence of Christ’s kindness when he says “ever living to make intercession for us” since even though Christ is so powerful and lofty, nevertheless along with these qualities he is also kind, because he intercedes for us, as St. John says, “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.”
Second, and most amazingly, he prays for us to satisfy the burning desire of his soul, of his Sacred Heart. St. Thomas goes on:
He prays for us to express the great desire of his most holy soul, which he has for our happiness and salvation, and it is with this desiring soul that he prays for us.
Think of this: that Jesus is at every moment expressing before the throne of the Most Holy Trinity the loving desire of his heart and soul and mind and strength for everything we need for our eternal happiness.
Third, we might add on our own, Jesus is so attached to the life of humility that he lived on earth and especially in his Passion, that he wants to retain some part of it by continuing the very human work of intercession, even though he himself is the One who grants the prayers. This is a great mystery.
So do you want to be like Jesus? Pray for others, for your family, your friends, your coworkers, for anyone who has hurt you or offended you, for poor sinners, for the sick and suffering, the war-torn and oppressed, and for the souls in purgatory for whom your prayers are a real consolation and refreshment.
Isn’t it a wonderful thing to have a kind and humble Lord who has such ardent and loving desires, that he spends his eternity as though he were in time, “ever living to make intercession for us?”
Let us approach him gladly even here in this place as he pleads for us under the appearances of bread and wine. Amen.
Image copyright, Lawrence, OP via Creative Commons.