Thursday, February 26, 2015

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.”

“The world says: "You have needs -- satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don't hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more." This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, (The Brothers Karamazov)

Gospel Text: (MT 7:7-12)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“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 asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked 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.”

This can be a hard gospel to read for those who don't think about it deeply enough: we ask God for something and don't receive it, so we draw the conclusion that the first lines of this passage are either incorrect or an outright lie. And if we read the rest of this passage in that same way, the text seems to go along with that: God will not always give us what we ask for.

What Jesus adds, however, about not giving a stone when our children ask for bread actually explains and justifies this seeming inconsistency. Too often we ask our Father for the wrong things --- stones, snakes, scorpions --- and are convinced that they are good for us. We think that when God doesn't give them to us it is because He doesn't really love us.

The problem here does not lie with God but with us, for if we believe that God only loves us when He is obedient to our immature understanding and misguided desires, we have a very childish view of God indeed.

Jesus calls us to look exclusively to the Father for all our needs and to trust that He will find ways to delight us --- even if it takes years for us to appreciate how apt and rich a gift He gives us in every circumstance. And Jesus asks us to trust in the Holy Spirit as well, praying as best we can that our desires match God's, that we seek only the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in all that we yearn for and do.

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