Monday, July 20, 2015

"In the Name of..."

This is more in the category of "not perspicuous".

I think it must have been the feast of the Holy Name, which admittedly was some time ago... Father's homily on the occasion began with the observation: It is a condemned superstition to hold or teach that the phonetic sounds "/ˈdʒiːzəs/" or "/ˈjeː.sus/" or the letters themselves j-e-s-u-s or even the spoken phrase "In J—s' name" have supernatural power. Counterbalance the superstition's idea with the scripture "Not all who cry 'Lord, Lord' will be saved", for instance.

And Father went on to explain that "ask in His name" means the person asking has to be, in a suitable way, in His name, and the asking itself (down to the object of petition) has to be fitting to be in His name. Perhaps a less-supernatural parallel is in order?

It is well and easily within the scope of ordinary human power to approach a stranger's door, knock, and demand entrance "in the name of the King" (or "in the name of the Law" in such places where Kings have been outthrown). But that doesn't mean the approach, knocking, or demanding actually are done in the King's name, or according to the demands of civil law. On the contrary, it is quite easy to run around doing so and causing trouble and bringing trouble on oneself. (heck, it can be trouble even when done rightly!)

The promise, then, "Whatever you ask in my name...", is something more precise and also more alarming than what the superstition understands: on the one hand (more precise), to ask in His name we must abide ourselves, somehow, in His name; and (more alarming) either the promise is empty (in which case, alack and anathema) or The Father wants to give us this abiding.


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