Saturday, May 11, 2013

Getting whatever I ask for

Jesus said to his disciples:
Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.
Until now you have not asked anything in my name;
ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

On the surface this reading appears to suggest that God is the worst parent in the world, giving their child anything they ask for. But let's look a little closer.

First of all, the verb is not just ask but beg— not something we like to do.

Secondly, the word translated here as whatever has a variety of meanings: a wish, a possibility or an uncertainty. We may ask for a wish, but God may give us a possibility, perhaps even a possibility that we could never have imagined. The uncertainty we don't much care for, if we are honest, it scares us, it reminds us we are not in control.

Our peace however is found in the final words. We are told that whatever God gives us will be for one purpose, that our joy may complete. The word joy "chara" can best be described as calmly happy, that peace of God beyond all understanding. And the "complete" here means literally crammed full.

We can ask for whatever and God is going to give us whatever. The one thing we can bet on is that the whatever God gives us will lead us to an absolute fullness of joy, calm, delight in God.