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Ask, Seek, Knock
Thursday of the First Week of Lent
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.”
Opening Prayer: My Lord, I stand before you as someone who has many needs. You remind me today that you are more than happy to help me out with all of my struggles. Strengthen my trust, so that I can allow you to lighten my burden.
- “Ask and It Will Be Given to You”: What does it mean to ask for something? First, we identify a void or need within ourselves which we intend to remedy. This intention drives us to act, but instead of trying to fill the void by ourselves, we often opt to engage another person as the source of the good we desire—be it information, an object, or a benefit. In approaching the other, we acknowledge the gratuity of the other person’s response to our request. Thus, asking for something is different from fixing something by oneself. Asking is different from taking or demanding it from someone. Asking is different from controlling. Asking is dealing with a need in an open-ended way. In the spiritual life, the desire to control, to demand, or to fix things on our own are often obstacles. In the spiritual life, we must learn to ask properly. We must learn to trust. This is what Jesus wants to teach us today.
- “Seek and You Will Find”: In a similar way, Jesus encourages us to set out on the spiritual journey of discipleship by seeking. Seeking, too, is open-ended. Someone who seeks doesn’t know what he will find. On the other hand, logic suggests that we certainly cannot find anything if we do not seek. Again, here lies a truth for our spiritual life which Christ wishes to teach us: Life in general, and spiritual life in particular, often presents us with findings that surprise us, as they will not align accurately with our expectations. He who is certain about what the future brings will not react docily to findings that he did not expect. Jesus wants us to seek and find surprises so that we can learn to be docile to God’s inspirations.
- “Knock and the Door Will Be Opened to You”: Jesus encourages us to shift the weight in our spiritual life. Whether we ask for something, or seek something, or knock at a door, these actions always involve someone else on whom we depend for an answer, or for a clue, or to open the door for us. Jesus wants us to learn to depend on God as we progress on our life’s journey—to exchange control for trust, certainty for docility, self-centeredness for God-centeredness.
Conversing with Christ: My Lord Jesus Christ, here I am asking and seeking and knocking. I am willing to shift the weight of my life in your direction. I know what that means: that I depend on you, that I ask for your generosity, that I need you. I ask for your grace, I seek your will, I knock at your door to find you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will do for another (a friend, my spouse, a colleague, a family member) that what I am expecting him or her to do for me.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 1787-1789: Man is sometimes confronted by situations that make moral judgments less assured and decision difficult. But he must always seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God expressed in divine law. To this purpose, man strives to interpret the data of experience and the signs of the times assisted by the virtue of prudence, by the advice of competent people, and by the help of the Holy Spirit and his gifts. Some rules apply in every case:
– One may never do evil so that good may result from it;
– the Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.”
– Charity always proceeds by way of respect for one’s neighbor and his conscience: “Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ.” Therefore “it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble.”
written by Fr. Gabriel von Wendt, LC