Today’s Gospel reading is a consumer reports nightmare. It is filled with false advertising and lost promises. That is, if you are reading from a consumer point of view. Here is the reading:
The Lord said to his disciples, "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11.9-13)
If we are honest with ourselves, we ask and it is not given, we seek and we do not find, we knock and the door we really want rarely ever opens. So how do we justify today’s reading with how we actually experience God’s responses to our daily list of demands?
Just a few verses before this passage, our Lord lays out for us the “Lord’s Prayer” as the way to pray. His followers begged Him, “"Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." (Luke 11.1) In this prayer, which the Apostles (see Didache) commanded that we should prayer three times per day, we find the very simply yet often overlooked phrase “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In this context then we should understand today’s reading. IF we are praying the Lord’s prayer, it goes to prove we will ask and receive, seek and find, knock and find the open door.
There is only one problem. Too often we offer God our daily demands rather than our daily prayers. Hers is what Saint James had to say, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4.3-4) If we ask and not receive, we have asked for the wrong thing.
Today’s reading isn’t false advertising because we aren’t consumers. We are children of God. We don’t (or at least we shouldn’t) view the Church or God as something that we are choosing from a list of menu items. The Church is the way of life established by God to help us in our journey of theosis. If we desire to be united to Him, then we will dump our demands in favor of our prayers.