Readings: Acts 13:44-52, Ps. 98:1-4, John 14:7-14

“I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

We witnessed a profound metamorphosis in Saul's life a few days ago. As the Christians gathered to pray and fast in Antioch, the Holy Spirit spoke, saying: “Set apart Barnabas and Saul to the work which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2). This marked a significant turning point in Saul’s life, a journey that led to his name change from Saul to Paul. In Acts 13:9-11 we read: “But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘…behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’ Immediately, mist and darkness fell upon him, and he sought people to lead him by the hand.” This was the last time the Bible addressed him as Saul, a testament to the transformative power of God's grace in our lives.

As Saul, he persecuted Christians, but as Paul, he fearlessly and fiercely defended the Church to the extent that, in today’s First Reading, the Jews (who knew him as Saul) became envious of him, and they conspired to throw him out of their city. Imagine the best player of a particular football club switching to another club for free and coming home to score goals against the club that raised him. Once again, this is the story of the power of God, with whom nothing is impossible. Jesus throws some light into this supernatural power in today’s Gospel when he said: “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14). Let us examine some lessons contained in today’s readings:

1. Even If the Invited Guests Do Not Come, the Party Must Go On: In Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus gave a parable about the guests invited to a wedding ceremony, but when it was time, they failed to attend. Some gave flimsy excuses; others beat up the servants who only came to remind them about the wedding. The Master, in annoyance, then told the servants to bring in as many people as they could find to the wedding banquet. This parable is exactly what plays out in today’s First Reading. Paul and Barnabas spoke first to the Jews, but the Jews reviled them and contradicted everything they said. Meanwhile, the Gentiles gladly accepted the message and glorified God, and many believed. God’s will must be done. His plans must come to pass. If we also behave like the Jews, God will work with others who are willing.

2. The Name of Jesus is the Most Powerful Name on Earth: Writing to the Philippians, Paul declares: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:9-11). In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says: “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it… if you ask anything in my name, I will do it…” By saying, “I will do it,” Jesus wants us to know He is God and mediator. He is the destination and the road we must follow to get there. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6). Without Jesus, we are lost. Without Him, we cannot know the truth, and no life exists.

3. The Power of Faith in Prayer: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14). These words of Jesus underscore the importance of faith in our prayers. Before you start praying, read these verses again and again. If possible, memorise them and repeat them in your heart daily. Do you believe you can do greater things than what Jesus did on earth? Do you trust God will do whatever you ask in Jesus’ Name? Praying without faith is like running on the spot; you exert much energy but no movement. Let us strengthen our faith in the power of prayer, for it is through faith that we truly connect with God.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, increase my faith in the power of your name. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Remember, amid all challenges, choose to be happy. Live with a positive mindset and believe in God’s plan for you. God bless you abundantly. (Saturday of the 4th week of Eastertide. Bible Study: Acts 13:44-52, Ps. 98:1-4, John 14:7-14).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu