“Whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you,” saith the Lord. (John 16:23)
Can we imagine that people like our Lady, Mary Magdalen, and St. John heard these words of Christ’s, and perhaps thought to themselves, “I have half a mind to call His bluff?”
After all, He had just told the people who loved Him the most, “I am going away. You will not see Me. You will weep, mourn, and grieve. You will suffer rough strife, like a woman in labor, gasping and panting in anguish. But then you will see Me again, and everything will be fine.”
Then He proceeded to promise them solemnly that their prayers in His name would be answered.
Now, if it were me, cheeky pipsqueak that I am, I might have said:
‘Okay, rabbi. I pray in Your Name that we skip the suffering part. I solemnly pray that the Father not receive You back into heaven, in such a way that we can no longer see You.
‘I pray that You remain here on earth with us, and rule the world visibly, openly. I pray in Your Name that Christianity be a whole lot easier, a whole lot more like worldliness, with easygoing comfort and not so many occasions for patient forbearance.
‘What do you think about them apples, Mr. Promiser-of-Answers-to-Prayers?’
To which He would of course reply: ‘Which part of it is better for you that I go did you not understand, numbskull? Have I been with you this long, and still you do not know Me?’
Moral of the story: There is only one way to pray “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Namely, to accept everything about Him—all His words; all His deeds; His visible-ness for 33 years; His invisible-ness for all these ensuing years—to accept all of it, as an absolute given, as the one, all-important, all-governing fact, the divine Fact—to accept Jesus Christ exactly as He actually is, maddening as He may be at times—to accept Him as the revelation of the unknown, eternal Glory… and then take everything else from there.
He says we do better by making a pilgrimage of obscure faith for a year, ten years, eighty-five years. He says that does us more good than instantaneous blessedness would do us. He says so. Ergo, it is true.
He made the pilgrimage that He made. He reached the goal He reached. He shares His invisible grace by the humble visible means that He instituted—water, oil, bread, wine, bumbling priests like myself. He did all this. Ergo, it is all for the absolute best.
Christ, as He is: the Given. Everything else: health, sickness; suffering, comfort; wealth, poverty; honor, ignominy; a long life or a short one—all of these are relative. They are good or bad as measured against the absolute given standard, Who is Christ.