Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
June 4th, 2011
Patrick Borchers

Academic Affairs
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Saturday in the Sixth Week of Easter
[296] Acts 18:23-28
Ps 47:2-3, 8-9, 10
John 16:23b-28

One of the real puzzles for me growing up was Gospel readings like this.  As a child what I heard was:  “If you ask God for it then you’ll automatically get it.”  I tried this out on my parents, suggesting that if I prayed really hard for the new bike that I wanted, that I’d get it without having to do anything else.  “No,” they cautioned me, “it doesn’t work that way.”  As a kid I loathed the phrase “it doesn’t work that way” because an explanation of how “it” actually worked never seemed to be forthcoming.

Of course, my parents had a better plan.  If I did extra chores and saved my allowance and put together the sum of thirty dollars they would split the cost of the bike with me. The Bible passage they had more in mind was, “God helps those who help themselves.”  So I did more chores and saved and eventually got the five-speed bike that I wanted.  It was a good lesson and I was far prouder of that bike because I worked for it.

But back to this Gospel reading for a moment.  What does Jesus mean by “whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you”?  The key phrase that I skipped over as a child was “in my name”.  As Jesus was slowly revealing his divine nature to his disciples, he was trying to move them from their childish understanding to a more mature notion of divinity.  To ask God for something in Jesus’ name is to commit oneself as a disciple.  We pray to a God of love and compassion, but not one of convenience.  As a child I wanted a God of convenience and part of me still does.  But that’s not a true understanding of God.  God required from Jesus the ultimate sacrifice.  If we keep that in mind then we’ll understand what it means to really ask in Jesus’ name.  To pray in Jesus’ name is not about praying for material things for oneself, even if it’s a five-speed bike for a 12-year-old boy.  It doesn’t work that way.  Believe me, I tried it.

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