“Hitherto, you have not asked any thing in my name. Ask, and you shall receive” (Jn 16:24).
These words of Our Lord in today’s Gospel are a gentle reprimand: you have not received because you have not asked. St James will add for his part: you do not receive because you ask in a wrong way.
How do we ask, and how do we ask in the right way? St Augustine tells us that if we ask for things that are truly useful for our eternal salvation — and not for temporal goods —, then it is that we are praying in the name of Jesus. Jesus is Saviour, He has come to save, and to ask in His Name is to ask sincerely for all that will lead us to the eternal kingdom.
As if to respond to this holy admonition of Our Lord, this week the Church has us celebrate the Rogation Days, three days of penance and supplication that precede the Ascension and on which we beseech Our Saviour to have mercy on us and grant us to be freed from the many calamities to which we are exposed. Processions, including the Litany of the Saints and other prayers, are traditionally held. Let us therefore devote ourselves during these days to some extra practices of self-denial and let us beseech the Lord to have mercy on our poor world.
In the same Gospel passage mentioned above, Our Lord goes on to say: “In that day, you shall ask in my name: and I say not to you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came out from God” (Jn 16:26-27). What a reassuring revelation! The Father Himself loves us! And He does so because we have put our faith in His Son.
If things do not seem to go as they should, if we are oppressed with many evils, the answer is simple: we need to pray more. Prayer is always the answer, for it is the means by which we creatures take part in the Divine Omnipotence. God knows everything, God can do everything, and God loves us — He loves us!. All He needs, all He is waiting for, is for us to ask Him to intervene. When enough people pray, things change.
In this month of May, let us also have renewed recourse to the Immaculate Virgin, especially at the approach of the anniversary of the first apparition of Fatima, 13 May. Our Lady came to ask her children to pray the Rosary. If enough people pray, there will be peace. If not, there will be no peace, but evil will be multiplied. It’s as simple as that. “Hitherto you have not asked anything”. Since 1917, too few people have been praying and evil increases in power each day. That can stop, only if enough people have a change of heart and pray more.
So let’s get on our knees and do what we’re told. The Father loves us, the Mother of God loves us, but as any good parent, they want us to grow up and take our responsibilities. The fate of the world is in our hands.