Luke and Matthew have collected in their respective Gospels some of Jesus’ words that without doubt remain deeply engraved in the minds of his closest followers. They easily could have been words that Jesus used while he moved about with his disciples through the villages in Galilee. They asked for something to eat, looked for people who would welcome them, or knocked at the neighbors’ doors.
Jesus and his disciple probably do not always get the desired response, but Jesus is not discouraged. His trust in the Father is absolute. His followers have to learn to trust as he does: I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Jesus knows what he is talking about since such is his experience: Everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
If there is something that we have to re-learn about Jesus in these times of crisis and confusion in his Church, it is trust. It is not the naïve attitude of someone sitting around waiting for better times. Much less is it a passive and irresponsible stance. Rather, it is the more evangelical and prophetic behavior of following Jesus, the Christ, today. In fact, though his three invitations point toward the same basic attitude of trust in God, his language suggests various shades of meaning.
“Ask” is the proper attitude of the poor who needs to receive from another what he cannot obtain by his own effort. Jesus imagines his followers to be men and women who are poor, aware of their frailty and basic needs, without any indication of pride or self-sufficiency. There is no disgrace living in a Church that is poor, weak and deprived of power. What is deplorable is to try to follow Jesus today all the while asking from the world a form of protection that can come to us only from the Father.
“Seek” is not just asking. It implies besides to get going, to take steps to attain something hidden from us because it is covered or concealed. Jesus sees his followers as “seekers of God’s kingdom and his righteousness.” It is normal to live today in a Church that is confused in the face of an uncertain future. What is strange is that we do not mobilize ourselves to seek together new ways to sow the Gospel in our modern culture.
“Knock” is to make a loud noise as if to shout out to someone who, we feel, is not close but can help us and attend to us. That is how Jesus shouts out to his Father in the loneliness of the cross. It is understandable that the faith of not a few people today who learned to recite it, celebrate it and live up to it has gotten dim. What is sad is that we do not exert more effort to learn to follow Jesus today, shouting out to God in the midst of the contradictions, conflicts and questions of the world today.
José Antonio Pagola
July 24, 2016
17 Sunday in O.T. (C)
Luke 11, 1-13