Ask in My Name

This weekend was our Law School graduation, the cermonies for which commenced with a beautiful Baccalaureate Mass. The presider was my friend and colleague, Fr. Reginald Whitt, a Dominican whose homilies always inspire me and are often quite challenging. (They don’t call Dominicans the Order of Preachers for nothing).

Many things stay with me from Reggie’s homily to the graduates, but I was particularly struck by his comments on Jesus’ promise to his disciples that “whatever you ask in my name, I will do…If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

The promise, of course, is not that Jesus will give us whatever we ask for. (A new car please, God. While you’re at it, maybe a hefty raise. A slimmer figure would be nice too.) Rather, Reggie suggested, the promise to grant anything we ask in Jesus’ name provides us with a test, so to speak, of our prayer. The test is: is this something I can ask in Jesus’ name? Do I dare pray for this in Jesus name?

It seems to me this offers a useful tool for our discernment. As Reggie said at one point, the question, “What would Jesus do?” often does not yield helpful answers for us. But the question “What would Jesus pray for?” and “Can I really pray for this in Jesus name?” just might offer us some very helpful guidance.