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JESUS' THREE SUMMONS

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Lc 11, 1-13

«I say to you: ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you». It's easy for Jesus to say these words as he's moving through the villages of Galilee asking for something to eat, seeking a place to stay, knocking on neighbors' doors. He knows how to take advantage of the simplest experiences of life in order to awaken the confidence of his followers in the Good Father we all have.

It's curious that at no time does he tell us what we need to ask for or seek, or at whose door we need to knock. What's important for Jesus is our attitude. In front of the Father we need to live as the poor who ask for what they need to stay alive, the lost who seek out a path that they don't know well, the helpless who knock on God's door.

These three summons of Jesus invite us to awaken our trust in the Father, but they do this with different nuances. «Ask» is the attitude typical of someone poor. We need to ask God for what we can't get by ourselves: life-breath, forgiveness, inner peace, salvation. «Seek» isn't just ask. It's also to take steps to get what's not within our reach. Thus we need to seek above all God's Reign and God's justice: a more human world, one that's suitable for all. «Knock» is to beat down the door, insist, cry out to God when we feel God is far away.

Jesus' confidence in the Father is absolute. He wants his followers to never forget: everyone who asks receives, who searches finds, who knocks finds the door opened. Jesus doesn't say that they receive concretely what they were asking for, that they find what they went around seeking or that they accomplish what they were crying out for. His promise is something else: to those who trust in God, God gives; those who come close to God, receive «good things».

Jesus doesn't give complicated explanations. He presents three examples that parents of every age could understand. What parent, when their child asks for a piece of bread, would give her a rock like the round ones you can see along the side of the road? Or if your child asks for a fish, would you give him one of those water snakes that sometimes appear in the fishing nets? Or if she asks for an egg, would you give her a scorpion that you see swarming at the edge of a lake?

Parents don't trick their children. They don't deceive them or give them something that could harm them, but «good things». Jesus comes quickly to the conclusion: «How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him». For Jesus, the best thing we could ask for and receive from God is God's life-breath, God's Spirit, God's Love that sustains us and saves our life.

 

José Antonio Pagola

 Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf

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