Posted On December 14, 2009

James and John: The Challenge of Daring

“Teacher we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you…” (Mk 10:35)
Wow! Now that’s bold! What I’m trying to say is: have you ever asked Jesus something like that? Have you ever thrown it all out there to God to see what would come back? Have you ever “put him to the test” to see if he’d really come through for you? Have you asked repeatedly? Forcefully? Continuously? Have you had that divine impatience that the sons of Zebedee possessed? Have you ever said, “Look, I want it all! I want everything! I want the whole kit and caboodle, Lord, and I will not be denied!” …I want to be a saint, a great saint.

Keep that in mind. I know I’ve asked many times. I’ve hungered and thirsted for righteousness. I’ve longed for that intimacy with our Lord that only he can grant. I have come back to him again and again, and I’ve refused to settle for less than the fullness of life and glory that he has to offer. I will not be denied!

Is this pride? Is this just me being full of myself? Well really it’s obedience, isn’t it? Jesus commands us, “Ask, and you shall receive” (Mt 7:7). He commands us! He wants us to throw out the infinite desires of our heart, because he wants to be our hero, wants to come through for us. He wants to earn his title as Savior of the World, and he knows that he can bring us true joy. But how much do we really trust him? Yeah he says to ask, but then what? Will he really come through? YES! God can come through, and he does. The story of the saints is the story of God coming through again and again. He calls us his friends. He calls us his children. What kind of friend or father would he be if he just let our desires fall by the wayside? …He wants us to be happy. He’s just waiting for us to ask!

Now, it’s time to dream big. Now is the time to enjoy exploring with our imagination. It’s Christmas in the middle of summer. Remember being a little kid getting ready to write your Christmas list. Remember the excitement. Relive that excitement. Grab yourself a pen and paper and make yourself a list. If you really believed that God could do anything, what would you want him to do in your life right now? If you really believed he was the King of the Universe, what would you ask of him? If you’ve seen his glory on Tabor like the sons of Zebedee, what kind of desires does that bring out in you? What do you want?…

This is Jesus’ response to our request: “What do you want me to do for you?” So make that list. Oftentimes we imagine that God is indignant at our requests. This is such a human reaction. Look at the ten. They react this way, with indignation. Maybe we’ve met others who have laughed at our requests. Who cares? Not Jesus. He really wants to discover what’s in the depths of our hearts. He commands you to ask, do you hear?

Still it can happen that he doesn’t just immediately answer yes. Sometimes he makes us work for what we want. But so what? Remember: God’s delays are not God’s denials. He’s waiting for just the right moment. He’s testing our resolve. He’s making sure we’re in this for the long haul, that we’re not going to turn back and walk away. He wants us to ask, and he wants us to keep asking… because you know what, “You will…”

And sometimes he shows us that he has even more in store for us. Sometimes the problem with our requests is that we ask too little. Ah yes, God does things that only God can do. How can he let us into his banquet when we’re happy to eat out of the dumpster? Often he’ll give us pain and dissatisfaction so that we can finally have the life he’s prepared us for, so that we can say “enough of this dumpster life. Give me a real life!…”

Then there are those occasions when he doesn’t give us what we want so he can give us our dreamshot. Hasn’t that ever happened to you? How many times have you ended up with something way better than what you asked for? Boy that’s what happened to James and John. They just wanted some cute little thrones to rule the kingdom of Israel, maybe a crown or two. They ended up being foundation stones for a church that has lasted over 2,000 years: James the first Apostle to suffer martyrdom; John, one of the primary authors of the New Testament. Not bad, huh?

Then again, let’s be honest, we don’t always know what we want. Sometimes all we know is that deep down, something must change,something must be transformed, something must be made better. That’s when it’s time to call in the big guns… Mom! Ever since creation God has had a soft spot for the feminine. Eve is the crown of creation. Jesus was constantly giving in to the requests of women, and especially of his queen-mother. Now Jesus has given us his mother, and when we present our requests to her, she presents them herself to our king in a way that is incomparable in its persuasiveness. So when all else fails, go to Mom, and let her take care of things…

Fr. Scott

I’ll make a list of my desires, and in prayer, during the month, I’ll ask God for the one that I consider the most important in my life.

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