3 May 2016
Feast of Saints Philip and James
That’s a pretty enticing thing Jesus says: “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” It sounds a lot like the old genie-in-the-bottle. But that’s not quite how God works. The name “Jesus” isn’t a magic word. We don’t speak it and—shazam!—things happen and we get what we ask for. Of course, we know that.
But, still, it’s an intriguing thing Jesus says: “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” And he seems to be getting at what we heard this past weekend: The idea of breaking down barriers between the human and the divine, so that they’re practically one and the same. To ask for something “in the name of Jesus” is to ask for it with the same mind and character of Jesus.
In other words, to ask for something “in the name of Jesus” is to say to him: “I want what you want, Jesus.” It’s to let our will and desires to be nothing other than the will and desires of the Lord—not so that we’re annihilated in our individuality, but so that we’re raised up in mind and spirit and character to be like God.
When the disciples heard Jesus, they heard the Father. And that’s because Jesus spoke and acted “in the name of” God the Father; he lived as one with the Father. When Paul, or Philip, or James preached and died for the faith, the crowds didn’t hear them—they heard Jesus preaching to them; they saw Jesus dying for them . . . not just Paul and Philip and James. And that’s because Paul and Philip and James were one in mind and spirit with Jesus.
And Jesus gave his Apostles asking what they asked for, because what they asked for was nothing other than whatever Jesus wanted. Jesus lays a pretty enticing thing out there us: “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” And it’s true. But the catch is: We have to ask “in the name of Jesus;” we have to be able to say to him: Jesus, Lord, whatever you want is what I want.
That’s a hard thing to do, for sure. But the more we practice trusting in the Will of God, the more we’ll see some “magic” happening. And that “magic” is nothing other than the fruit of our growing in holiness, our becoming more like God.