Today’s gospel begins by repeating the last verse of yesterday’s gospel: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” Later in this gospel passage Jesus repeats a second time our need to ask the Father “in his name.”
What does it mean to ask God in the name of Jesus? Jesus’ words that follow immediately are a strong indication. “I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” Jesus seeks to offer his disciples a glimpse of the love he shares from all eternity with the Father. The God he calls father is the origin and source of all he is. The Father is, just as surely, the goal and summit of all he is. There is a rhythm of love that exists in the essence of God, which we express as the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We can come at this another way, perhaps. St. Paul tells us that God the Father “did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us” (Romans 8:32). This ‘handed him over’ is the same expression used to describe the actions of the traitor, Judas. Certainly it must have a different meaning in reference to God’s action than to Judas’. Somewhere St. Thomas explains this by pointing out that God the Father ‘handed over the Son’ by inspiring in him such love for his Father’s saving plan that he spontaneously entrusted himself to the passion. The handing over was a handing over of love that called forth love.
This, it seems to me, brings us to something of what it means to ask the Father in the name of Jesus. Recalling that in the biblical tradition, to have access to another’s name is to gain access to their person, asking in the name of Jesus is to be filled with love from the Father so as to pour out our lives in prayer to the Father for the sake of the world. This is the prayer not to be refused by the Father. To pray in love for the healing, reconciliation, transformation of the world.
This love of the Father for the Son, does it need to be said, is who we know to be the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the love of God is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
One of my favorite prayers to the Holy Spirit is written by Cardinal Mercier.
O Holy Spirit, soul of my soul,
I adore You.
Enlighten, guide, strengthen, and console me.
Tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it.
I promise to be submissive in everything that You permit to happen to me,
only show me what is Your will.