The Prophet Isaiah told King Ahaz to ask for a sign from God. Ahaz’s answer seems pious, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord.” Had this response come from a better man it might be a holy and right answer but Ahaz was a wicked man and king. Time after time Ahaz rejected God’s commandments. He led his people astray and the Prophet Isaiah sought to bring people back to the true God. Isaiah is telling Ahaz to trust in God. Ask for something from God because God wants to do something for you. Ahaz refuses to ask because he has no reason to believe that God would do anything.
Sometimes we are afraid to ask God for things. We might think that God does not care about us; after all, God has bigger concerns than my petty needs. Or we might be afraid of being disappointed. Haven’t we all prayed for something and it seems like God never replied? The famous American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson started out as a clergyman only to reject his faith upon the death of his wife. If we don’t ask then there is little to be disappointed in when we don’t get what we want.
It seems difficult for us to ask God because we know how the world works. If we pray for more money, God doesn’t open up the sky and rain down cash upon us. If we pray for health, it seems that the cancer remains. God’s ways of operating are not the ways of this world. After all, Mary did not pray to be the mother of the Messiah. She did not pray to be a mother when she was not even married. Joseph did not pray to take in a pregnant woman and claim the child as his own. It was part of God’s plan and God’s plan isn’t something we can grasp.
Ahaz recognized that if he asked for a sign then it might mean that his life would have to change. He had no expectations of God because he did not want God to have expectations of him. Mary and Joseph trusted in God and this trust is so difficult to develop. The famous Christian writer C.S. Lewis struggled with his faith upon the death of his wife. He said that a rope is one thing when used to tie a box but another thing when one uses it to dangle over a cliff. He recognized that what he thought was faith wasn’t sufficient because he was ready to give it up when the times got difficult.
May the Eucharist help us to have the faith of Mary and Joseph so that we can submit ourselves to God’s plan of salvation. God has expectations of us so we should have expectations of him.