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Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’
Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’
Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.’
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.’
In today’s reading we hear Jesus making a very big promise … or, rather, that is how many choose to interpret his words. Jesus seems to be promising to give us absolutely anything we ask for, no matter how large or small our request may be. But, is that really what these words from scripture are saying?
Before reflecting upon Jesus’ words let us reflect upon our own attitudes. What importance do we place upon a promise that has been made to us? Whilst we can vaguely recall the joy of a promise that was kept, we probably have a more lasting memory of the feelings associated with promises that have been broken. I am sure the feeling of disappointment, disillusionment and anger have left a longer-lasting legacy than any fleeting moments of gratification. And, what about our other reactions to a broken promise?
Most promises that are broken are broken for some good reason. Unexpected circumstances arise and the eagerly anticipated promise has to be changed or set to one side. How often do we allow our feelings of hurt and betrayal become transformed into feelings of sympathy and concern for the one who has been forced to let us down?
In today’s reading Jesus says: If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. That seems to be a straightforward promise and, at one level, it is. But … it begins with the words that are so often glossed over or ignored: If in my name … We expect Jesus to honour his part of the promise, but we treat our side of the deal with contempt.
When we choose to profess Jesus Christ as our risen Lord and Saviour, we enter into a relationship with him. We commit ourselves to being faithful and loyal disciples and apostles. We promise to love God before all else. We promise to love our neighbours, and enemies, as we love ourselves. We promise to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ through every word we utter and every action we perform. We promise to come together in worship and praise on a regular basis. When we keep our promises we can connect with those challenging words: If in my name. And … if we cannot keep our promises, perhaps we should not be surprised that we fail to recognize and understand all that Jesus does for us anyway.
Of course, all is not lost! Jesus is loving, kind and, most important of all, he is forgiving and gives us endless chances to redress the balance. Today we are challenged to take the route of repentance, the route that will change our perspective on life and lead us to do everything in his name. Then we will recognize the lasting joy of all that Jesus does for us today and every day.