Summer Helper Column
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In today’s Gospel from Luke, our Lord teaches His disciples to pray. In doing so, He focuses upon a particularly significant virtue in prayer: perseverance. Our Lord’s use of the parable of a persistent man asking his reluctant friend for bread gives an emphatic spotlight to this virtue of perseverance and its value in the spiritual life. We are told in this story that the reluctant friend gives the bread to the man not on account of their friendship but due to his perseverance in asking even though “the door has already been locked” (Lk 11:7 NABRE) and he and his entire family are already in bed. This story emphasizes the reality that between two imperfect human persons sometimes it is only persistence that results in an answered supplication. Immediately afterwards, Christ proclaims some of His most familiar words: “ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Lk 11:9). There is a parallel between the locked door of the reluctant friend and the door which God answers when we knock in prayer. In drawing this parallel, our Lord stresses that if perseverance is able to so move the reluctant, irritated, and imperfect friend to unlock his door to give the beseeching man the bread, how much more generous will a perfect and completely understanding friend to us, our Lord Himself, open the door and give us what is good for us and what we need for salvation and happiness if we are persistent in asking. Christ completes this teaching on the intensity of the generosity of the Father with unambiguous and explicit words: “What father among you would hand his son 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 the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Lk 11:11,13). Let us persevere in our daily commitments to prayer because, no matter what struggles and sufferings we find in our lives, God bestows abundant graces not only to endure such trials but to even find joy in the midst of them: a joy that comes from intimacy with our Lord. But, as the Gospel says, we must persistently ask for such abundant graces.
-Fr. Scott’s summer helper