“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)
Jesus invites us as his disciples into the same close relationship with the Father as he has. In doing so he is seeking to remove the ideas that God is distant or remote, or some volatile and cranky power who needs to be placated constantly, or approached only when absolutely necessary. This portrait is not new to the Scriptures. Similar images can be found in Isaiah, witnessed in Jeremiah, and celebrated in the Psalms. Why then has the image of God as harsh judge become the one so often associated with God by so many?
It is a bit surprising that the reluctant or crabby neighbor is used by Jesus in the parable. (Luke 11:5-8) That is not a flattering picture of God if we equate God with that person. But that isn’t God; it’s us. We may give sometimes imply to get people off our back. God wants us on his back.
Whey then do we not always get what we ask for or seek? The key may be found in the imagery of snake/fish and scorpion/egg. No parent in his or her right mind would knowingly give a child something which he or she knows would be harmful. Neither will God, even if we ask for it and think it is the one thing we want and need. The fish we seek may be loaded with mercury, the egg with salmonella. And so God disappoints us to save us from greater disappointment or harm. That’s where trust on our part must come into play.
One final thought on prayer. Prayer is more than saying or reading prayers—though it may include them. Prayer is seeking to be in the presence of God above all else. Think of being with someone to whom you are very close. Have you ever noticed that there are times when there is no need for words; that, in fact, words would spoil those experiences? And yet, deep communication is taking place.
That is the kind of intimacy to which we are invited to have with and by our God.
~Fr. Sas, excerpts from July 28 Homily
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C