In today's Gospel reading from John, we have Jesus bucking up the flagging faith of both Thomas and Philip in saying: I will do whatever you ask in my name.....and.... If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
The old adage, "be careful what you ask for because you just might get it" comes to mind when thinking about these promises Jesus is making. But how do we explain all those unanswered prayers all of us have offered up in times of heartache and loss and terror? How are we to explain the seeming-silence of Jesus to the suffering of so many in our world in light of these promises we read today?
I wish there was a pat and easy answer, but there is not. Part of a way to look at this issue is by deeply considering the mystery of our faith that we all live into by naming ourselves Christian. Another portion is the mystery of the Incarnation we celebrate this Christmas Season, of God becoming fully human and walking and being among and with us. Part of the answer comes from the reality and truth of the old Stones song: You can't always get what you want. Part of the answer comes from our belief that so much of what we have in our Gospels are not to be taken literally, but analogously, metaphorically. Part of the answer comes from our faith that Christ died for each one of us, was resurrected and ascended to heaven, showing us, in part, that we may not get exactly that which we ask for or want, when we want, but better things will happen: we just need to ask and be open to those differing perspectives and understandings that result from that ask.
So ask in Jesus' name today. And be open to the surprise that comes.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.