Say YESFr. Barnabas Powell
I remember a time when I had to extend the power of attorney to someone to help me deal with a challenge in another state. The whole purpose of the power of attorney was so this person could act as me in the circumstance to achieve the desired goal. From a legal standpoint that person in the other state was me for a while. So, legally, I was in two places at once!
Listen to our Lord in today’s Gospel lesson: “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (St. John 16:23)
All week long we have been reading from St. John’s Gospel as the Lord prepares His disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit after His Ascension. The teachings have been about obedience, trust, and the great news that the Lord would send us “another Comforter” to come alongside us and to empower us to fulfill His wise directions for our lives.
Today is no different. Our Lord teaches His disciples that intimacy with the Uncreated God is now open to them in a way that they will ask the Father “anything” and He will give it to them in the Lord’s name. This “power of attorney” the Lord gives His disciples is no mere legal fantasy, but an almost too good to be true revelation of just how close God is inviting us to be to Him!
No wonder the Lord said that our “joy would be full” in light of this new intimacy with God.
Now, before we foolishly reduce this cosmic joy to a mere “Santa Claus” poverty; this passage is not about God the Father throwing open the “candy store” of heaven to indulge every selfish desire of the disciples. I like something told to me long ago about how God answers prayers. God has basically four answers to our requests: Yes, No, Wait a while, and (my favorite) You’ve got to be kidding Me!
This is not the meaning of the passage at all. In fact, the Lord suggests that the very desires of the disciples will be transformed by their increasing intimacy with God.
Haven’t you found that to be true in your own life? As you have matured in your love for God your desires have “grown up” too. This is what happens naturally to a person that becomes increasingly at home in the fire of God’s presence. All that which is unlike Christ in your life is “burned up” and what is left is the purified heart of a true lover of God.
Today, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost heralds the beginning of an awesome invitation by Christ. His Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, Sitting at the Right Hand of the Father, and Second Coming throw open the path for us to become by grace what He is by nature. His sending this Holy Spirit plugs us into His everlasting grace to strengthen us, transform us, and empower us to stand in that “fire” of God’s eternal love. Just like the Three Hebrew Children in the Fiery Furnace (look it up, or better yet, go to Orthros on Sunday morning and hear about it every divine liturgy!), we, too, have a Fourth Man walking in the fire with us to comfort and support our spiritual journey.
Today, your desires are transformed and matured by your purposeful practice of the Faith. The Holy Spirit is given to you to continue that process of maturation and He won’t stop this process until you are “like Christ” if you will simply keep saying “yes” to the journey.
Say “yes” today.