Easter 6

For someone who worked for cutting-edge technology companies, I am not what is generally referred to as an “early adopter.”  I know that I had an email account in college only because my roommate would check it for me whenever a professor would yell at me for not checking it.  When everyone else my age was on their second or third CD player, I was still very attached to my Sony Sports boombox with the double cassette player.  A college friend of mine got frustrated with my Luddite tendencies and insisted on at least a home CD player and a Pearl Jam CD, but the first CD I ever actually bought was Janis Joplin’s Pearl.  The eighth track on Pearl is Mercedes Benz, always a favorite.  “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?  My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.”  Janis ends up praying for a color TV and a night on the town on top of the Mercedes Benz, therefore setting a high standard of things for which to pray for hippies everywhere.


Janis had some particular needs, a set of problems she thought the Lord might be able to solve.


“In the Gospel Reading, Christ suggests a remedy for any problem we have.  The Father will give you anything you ask for, he says, if you will just ask for it in Jesus’ name.


“But what is it to ask for something in Christ’s name?  It can’t be a matter of simply tacking the name of Christ on to any prayer.  “I would like a Porsche, please, in the name of Christ.”  Prayer isn’t magic. It isn’t a matter of using the right magical formulas in order to make God do what you want him to do.


“It helps here to consider the homely cases in which one person asks something in the name of another. A secretary can ask for the mail in her boss’s name: “I’m just here to pick up the mail for my boss!”   A child can ask a neighbor for a cup of sugar in his mother’s name: “Mrs. Murphy, my mother wants to know if you could lend her a cup of sugar.”


“In these cases, the person asking can ask in the name of another because he somehow identifies himself as in relationship with that other: my boss, my mother.  Something—a connection of shared work, a family relation‑—binds the two of them together.


“To ask in Christ’s name is like this, too.  You ask in the name of Christ when you are in the kind of relation to him that lets you say “my” with respect to him.  And what would bind the two of you together in this way?  What should follow that “my”?  It shouldn’t be “my servant,”….but “my Lord.”


“Take him as Lord, and you have to recognize that, as Lord, he loves and cares for his own. He knows what to give to those who are his in answer to their prayers.  So if you ask the Father for something in the name of Christ… you ask being prepared to accept what your Lord wants to give you.  What you are given will be a good gift if it is in accord with his will, even if it isn’t in accord with yours.  To ask the Father in Christ’s name, then, is to trust Christ with your life as you ask.”[1]


This level of trust is not the easiest thing in the world to summon up.  That kind of trust doesn’t exist in most places for most people or in many things.  Think of all the people or entities that you wouldn’t trust with your life.  It’s easy here to think about Facebook, which engendered the trust of 2.2 billion people, only to break the trust of millions upon millions of those people.


And yet real trust is still evident all around us.  Military and emergency service is based on trust, the trust that the man or woman next to you has your best interests at heart.  The Church is supposed to be like that, in fact we’re commanded to be like that.  “This I command you,” Jesus says to us today, “to love one another.”  Let’s first state the obvious: “Jesus is not talking about a particular set of feelings or emotions (when He talks about love).  He is not telling his disciples to concoct some particular combination of dreaminess and quickened pulses at the sight of a beloved.  It is clear here that “love” means service, means action, means a life of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.”


If we abide in that kind of love, the kind of love for one another that comes from knowing the kind of love that God has for us, then trust, real trust, can bloom and survive.  And when we have this kind of love and trust, it’s then that we can speak and pray in Jesus’ Name, trusting that whatever it is we ask for, God will give us what we truly need and desire.  As for that Mercedes Benz you’ve been asking for, well, that’s between you and the Lord.

[1] Eleanor Stump: http://liturgy.slu.edu/6EasterB050618/reflections_stump.html

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