he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within,
'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.'
I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.”
(from Lk 11:1-13)
Pondering the Word…
Have you ever considered the third person in this story, the traveler who shows
up at his friend’s door late at night? My guess is that his would-be host was
likely in bed too. The traveler probably pounded on his door like his unprepared
host is now pounding on his neighbor’s. You’ve got to imagine the traveler is
tired and hungry, perhaps even desperate given his willingness to travel so late
into the night.
I admire this man in the middle. He is there for his weary traveler friend. Even
though he is not prepared, he is willing to take a risk and pester his neighbor
for help. He is also trusting…trusting of the friendship he has with this
neighbor. And I like the neighbor too and imagine that in the light of day he is
happy he was there to help not only his friend, but his friend’s guest.
Haven’t we all, at one time or another, been all three of these people: the one
in need of care, the caregiver, and the support system, the respite for the one
who cares? Which of these roles are you playing now?
Living the Word….
While the message of this parable is clearly persistence in prayer, never tiring
of asking God for what we need, it doesn’t hurt to imagine the back story and
the message it has for us. And that message is the importance of hospitality in
community. Perhaps you know someone who has been thrust into a caregiving role
and is in need of support--maybe just a safe, nonjudgmental space to vent their
frustrations. Are you willing to lend a listening ear (without advice or
preaching), even though it might be difficult or inconvenient? Perhaps some
“weary traveler” has shown up on your doorstep—a long-lost relative or prodigal
son or daughter. Do you think you need to go it alone or can you trust the
community and ask for support? Are you yourself the one who is weary and in
need? Are you willing to be vulnerable and turn to a friend to help you?
We likely encounter desperate travelers every day, usually without knowing it.
Some are literally travelers in need, like refugees; some live in chronic
poverty; and others in our churches, families, and communities live lives of
quiet desperation. Is our door open to care for them or to assist and support
those who care for them? Do we even hear their knocking? Or are we still asleep?
said to (Aaron), 'Make us a god to be our leader, for the man Moses who brought
us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.'”(Ex
Implied in this demand the Israelites make on Aaron is either that they see
Moses as their god-leader, or they think God is not accessible unless Moses is
around. This is a trap modern humanity can fall into as well. We know the
stories of dangerous cults where people claim to be a god, but what about a cult
of personality or of denomination--that God is only accessible at this type of
church or with this priest or minister. Magical thinking, superstitions, or
limits we put on God are not of God. “(There is)
one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all…”
(Eph 4:5) and for all. No limits.
LORD, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness
for a thousand generations … but punishing children and grandchildren for their
33:7-11; 34:5b-9, 28)
never liked this passage. I prefer Ezekiel 18:20, but even that’s tough: “The
one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the
parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child.” But I can’t help
but think of how we do inflict “punishment” on coming generations through our
worship of material goods, by tolerance of immoral and unjust behavior, by
inaction, and by our wanton use of the earth’s resources. It is not God
punishing the generations to come, but our own sin on which we will be judged.
Reflect on this, especially if you tend to ignore or dismiss the burden we are
leaving for our children and grandchildren.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine
pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has
and buys it.”(Mt
This passage is apropos as today is the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Born into aristocracy, young Iñigo had big dreams of valor and fame. Even after
he experienced his conversion, he wanted to be a soldier for Christ, thinking he
could outdo the saints he had read about. It took him a while to understand the
treasure he had found in Jesus required him to not only surrender his sword and
shield, but also his pride and ego, his grand dreams of holy glory. Our world is
full of sparkling gems and pearls that distract us from even seeking the
Kingdom. Like Ignatius, we may have to be wounded in our worldly battles before
we realize the “pearl of great price” we have in faith. What are you willing to
surrender for the Kingdom?
In the daytime the cloud of the LORD was seen over the Dwelling; whereas at
night, fire was seen in the cloud
by the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey.
(Ex 40: 16-21, 34-38)
This is the last line of the Book of Exodus, but the Israelites’ journey is
nowhere near an end. The narrative will pick up again in the Book of Numbers and
there will be a lot more wandering, a lot more getting lost, a lot more sin and
doubt on the part of the travelers. But God’s presence stays with them. God
continues in their midst, just as Moses asks him (34:9). Just as God does for us
through all our wanderings. We have only to ask.
came to his native place…the people were astonished: “Where did this man get
such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Where did this man
get all this?” And they took offense at him.
(Mt 13: 54-58)
Hometown boy makes good.
Usually, people are proud of their native sons and daughters who return better
educated or more successful. But there are always some skeptics or those who are
jealous, especially if the one returning tells them they need to change! The
people of Nazareth didn’t want the attention Jesus’ presence brought to their
quiet little village. Everything was just fine the way it was. Are we
open to the real gospel message of compassion, forgiveness, and care for the
oppressed? Or is everything just fine the way it is?
God have pity on us and bless us; may he let his face shine upon us. So may your
way be known upon earth; among all nations, your salvation. May the nations be
glad and exult because you rule the peoples in equity;
feel as though we keeping knocking on the door, asking for God to heal the
wounds in our nation, and in and between nations of the world. How long,
Lord, how long? But we must continue, not only to pray, but to work and
advocate to heal wounds in our families and communities. The call is great. The
need is greater. Let’s join together on this the eve of International Friendship
and Forgiveness Day to consider reaching out in friendship and with a forgiving
heart to all persons we meet.
the nations on the earth you guide.”(Ps