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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sparkles of Light (Mt 7:7-12)

1 March 2012, Thursday of 1st Week of Lent


“Ask and it will be given to you; 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.  Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.  This is the law and the prophets. or mother.
Matthew 7:7-12

Our Gospel for today is the continuation of the Sermon on the Mount.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned his disciples against formal, hypocritical prayer, and thus he gave them a model prayer to start them on their prayer journey. Now he takes the lesson a step further by teaching them to ask in faith. The teaching seems to be simple -- and at one level it is.  Jesus introduces three words that indicate desire in our prayer: ask, seek, and knock.
Ask seems to refer to simple petition, with the promise "it will be given to you." It is to ask for, with a claim on receipt of an answer, ask, ask for, demand."  Many of our prayers are of this kind. Finding that parents are the key to getting many things, our children commonly ask for what they want: "Mom, can I have some cookies." Or "Dad, can I drive the car tonight?"  And the answer, though, is not so simple. It could be, "Yes, I'll bring some to you on a plate." Or, "No, they'll spoil your dinner." Or, "Not now, but after you finish your math homework you can take a break and have three cookies -- no more."
One of the lessons Jesus is teaching us is to ask for the things we desire, rather than just trying to seize them on our own. One thing we eventually learn as children is that for some things the answer is always, "No." We learn not to ask any further. We also learn that in some areas if we ask, and conditions are right, we will receive. As we listen to our parents, we are educated in what to ask for and how to ask.  We don't learn these things by never asking. We learn by continuing to ask, and gradually learning our parents' mind, and asking according to what we perceive to be their mind. Hence, we are told to ask.
"Ask" indicates a petition. "Seek," however, indicates a search for something that is either lost or has not yet been found or discovered. "Seek, and you will find," Jesus says.  Just previously in the Sermon on the Mount, he had instructed his disciples, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (6:33). It is as if Jesus calls his disciples to a Quest for a kingdom and righteousness that are not immediately obvious.

Seeking can be frustrating, but we must not give up. Jesus has told us to seek his kingdom and his righteousness. The seeking process is a maturing process, a sifting process, and -- if we continue and don't give up -- becomes a single-minded Quest to know God. "Seek, and you will find." There is a promise here that if we will seek to know the Lord, and seek after his presence and blessing, we will find it. There is a looking that can be frustrating, but we are not to give up because we will find Him if we seek him with all our heart.
The third command is "Knock, and the door will be opened to you." Basically, knocking is confined to closed doors, not open ones. You've faced closed doors in your life, ones you sought desperately to open or reopen. Some of them you have banged on again and again. But then you learn to try other doors to see which one God will open.  "Knock," says Jesus, "and the door will be opened to you." We are to continue to knock on doors until God opens to us the opportunity he has in mind.


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