Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (José Antonio Pagola)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year CLeave a Comment

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Three calls to Jesus

And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  Jesus might have easily uttered these words as he moved about the villages of Galilee asking for something to eat, looking for a place where he would be welcomed to stay and knocking on neighbors’ doors.  He knew how to make use of the simplest life experiences to wake up his followers’ trust in the Good Father of all.

Oddly, we are not told at any time what to ask for or seek or at what door to knock.  What is important to Jesus is the attitude.  Before the Father, we have to live like the poor people who ask for what they need to live, like those who are lost and in search of the way they are not familiar with, like the helpless folks knocking at God’s door.

Jesus’ three calls invite us to awaken our trust in the Father, but they do so with different shades of meaning.  “To ask” is the attitude that belongs to the poor.  We have to ask God for what we cannot provide for ourselves:  the breath of life, forgiveness, inner peace, salvation.  “To seek” is not just to ask.  It is also to take steps to attain what is within our reach.  Hence, we have to seek first of all God’s kingdom and his righteousness, which is to say, a more human and more decent world for everybody.  “To knock” is to bang on the door, to insist, to cry out to God when we feel he is far away.

Jesus’ trust in the Father is absolute.  He wants his followers never ever to forget this:  “everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Jesus does not say that they receive exactly what they ask for or find what they seek or get what they clamor for.  His promise is different:  God gives to those who put their trust in him; those who go to him receive “good gifts.”

Jesus does not give complicated explanations.  He sets three examples that fathers and mothers of all times can understand.  “What father”—or mother—“among you would hand his son a stone”—like one of the round ones that are seen on the road—“when he asks for a bread, or hand his son a snake”—like one of those water snakes that turn up sometimes in fishing nets—“when he asks for a fish, or hand him a scorpion”—one that is all tangled up among those that are seen at the shore of the lake—“when he asks for an egg?”

Parents do not make fun of their children.  They neither fool them nor give them something that may harm them, but instead only “good gifts.”  Jesus quickly draws the conclusion:  “How much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” For Jesus, the best that we can ask and receive from God is his life-sustaining and life-saving Breath.

José Antonio Pagola

July 28, 2013
17 Ordinary Time (C)
Luke 11, 1-13

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