James and John remind me of when my children were younger. Often after a play date they would run up to me begging to be heard so that they could ask the question that had popped into their head. This question wasn’t just verbal, it was a question that was totally embodied. They asked while jumping up and down, pulling on my hand almost unable to articulate in their excitement
‘Can Jo stay over mum?’ Oh the pleading in their voice how could I refuse? Of course I had a get out clause – it wasn’t just up to me the other mum had to agree too.
What struck me about James and John was that it seemed their request was not thought through, there was an immediacy to it. As though in their excitement the request could not be contained. I think it came from a need to be near the Lord in Heaven rather than any idea of arrogance.
And like a parent Jesus stops and listens to their request. And again like a parent He doesn’t necessarily give them what they ask for. He knows that it is not possible, it is not in His gift to provide what they want.
The other thing I notice about this Gospel is that Jesus accepts their enquiry. This, like my children asking if a friend can stay, is not one that has been mulled over, thought out, discerned, or talked over with friends. Rather it comes out of deep need, possibly one that they were not even aware of. Of course sometimes when we do allow things to ferment we change our minds miss the opportunity, the lessons that come with immediacy.
We talk ourselves out of taking the risk.
Yet the Lord we know loves us unconditionally, we can do nothing to change that. And in that love all possible risk is driven out. We, like James and John, can ask the Lord anything. In fact He waits for us to share our deepest desires with Him. Knowing that we can be naked before Him does demand courage and trust, almost a childlike trust. It also requires faith, faith that the Lord only ever wants what is best for us. And as in the Gospel story we may not know what it is we ask for, but He still encourages us to ask it anyway.
29th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Living the Word…
What favour would you ask of the Lord this week?
What does it mean for you to share in the Lord’s baptism this week?
Where is the Lord offering you moments to be great this week?
Living the Word for Children
How will you serve others this week?
When you enter Church, use the Holy water to bless yourself to remember that through baptism you are a child of God.
Living the Word for Families
Spend time this week remembering and talking about the baptisms of your children.
Maybe you could find their baptismal candle and light it for your prayer time or for dinner one evening this week.
Thank you that we are able to ask anything of You and to be honest in our desires. Help us to accept the way in which You answer our prayers.
Strengthen us to work for Your glory and serve You through serving others.