May 23, 2020
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 296

Acts 18:23-28
Psalms 47:2-3, 8-9, 10
John 16:23b-28

Celebrating Easter

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

What If I Have Trouble Getting Better?

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you."
John 16:23

At this time of our dealing with a pandemic, the readings seem to take on a special opportunity for us to be nourished. In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we are introduced to Apollos. He was an effective preacher, who knew the Hebrew scriptures and had been introduced into "the Way of the Lord," but only about the Lord's baptism. Acquilla and his wife, Priscilla - tent makers, like Paul - take Apollos aside and instruct him with the full story of Jesus. I thought it important to remind ourselves in these challenging times that we need to refresh ourselves in the full story of Jesus, and his Way, to help us trust in the redeeming love of our God and our call to be self-sacrificing as Jesus was.

In Chapter 16 of the Fourth Gospel, Jesus is saying farewell to his followers. He is clearly offering them hope and encouragement. There will be, we are told in the passage two days ago, hard times ahead. In yesterday's gospel, Jesus compares it with a time of childbirth, which ultimately brings joy. In today's selection, Jesus urges us to turn to the Father in our troubles, and ask the Father for anything, in Jesus' name.

Let's chew that assurance a bit. I don't suspect Jesus meant that we could ask for just anything - especially anything that isn't good for us or part of God's plan, for example, that I become rich and famous and conquer my enemies. I think the force of "anything" or "whatever" reaches to the really deep stuff - the areas of asking which are the most difficult to ask for and trust. It's as though Jesus is saying we can even ask to totally put our trust in God, and give our lives over to complete self-sacrificing love, and the Father will give us even that.

He says we can ask, "in my name." He saying that we can ask this way because our deepest desires will, in fact, be Jesus' deepest desires for us. We are asking for what Jesus wants for us. Jesus is asking, when we go to the depths of our desires, inspired by Jesus. Jesus makes it clear that he doesn't mean that he'll ask the Father for us. No, we can ask, in Jesus' name, and it will be the same as Jesus' asking the Father directly.

How do we approach our Father with this confidence, especially in this time of unsettling, disturbing and challenging circumstances? Some of us have experienced the loss of loved ones. Some are living in the midst of hot spots that are frightening. Others of us are at high risk because of age or other health issues. This is a time to turn to our Lord and ask him to offer us peace and trust and to align our hearts with his. He will help us shape desires to bring to our Father. We can certainly pray, "Take away everything bad." The closer we come to the heart of Jesus the closer desires will come to a prayer that begs, "Give me courage and hope in your love and care for me, whatever happens." We can even pray, "I place my life and the lives of my loved ones, and the most vulnerable around us, in your most loving hands, dear Father." We can ask, "Loving Father, let me know you are always with us on this journey." The results are real whenever we ask the very things our Father deeply desires to give us. We can even ask, "Let me grow in greater compassion for those who suffer, and greater generosity in reaching out, comforting, and serving those I can help at this time." It is easy to discern that these prayers are in Jesus' name.

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