When dealing with children I have no doubt you have run into the “are you serious” questions. You know, those time when they ask you a question and your first response is “are you serious?” These are not rhetorical questions, like “wow, do you see that sunset”. I mean “are you serious” questions like “do we have to go to grandma’s house?” … or “do I have to finish my meatloaf?” … or even “do I have to be nice to my little sister?”
“Of course, you have to be nice to your little sister … she’s your little sister?” Maybe not the best answer, but you get my point.
In today’s gospel there is the perfect “are you serious” set of answers. “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?” Somewhere, that was not recorded in scripture, someone came up to Jesus and asked, “if my son misbehaves and asks for some bread, can I give him a rock instead?” … are you serious? No, you can not give your son a rock. And, while I’m at it you also cannot give your son a snake when he asks for a fish no matter how many times he misbehaves.
The interesting thing about this Gospel reading is that it comes right after the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer. When taken together it presents a wonderful message of how we pray, when we pray, what we pray for and how God will respond. It starts with “this is how you should pray”, continues with pray “and it will be given to you”, then pray for “others as you would have them” pray for you.
The most important word in the Lord’s Prayer, as I see it, is the first one; “Our”. From this one word, everything else follows. Everything else is about together. Together we should honor His name, His Kingdom, His will. Together we should worry about and provide for OUR daily bread.
The Lord did not say that we should say, give me today my daily bread. Because He is our father, we are all brothers and sisters. We are all responsible for the coming of the Kingdom here on earth. We are all responsible for His will being realized in those next to us, those less fortunate than us, those that we might not always enjoy being around. Our Father is to be honored in our lives, our relationships, our actions.
Too often the Lord’s Prayer is said as if it was written with the “regal we” in mind. Where us means me. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those … this may be fun but you walk around flaunting your “regal we” here and there pretty soon your wee self will be all on its wee own.
This Gospel ends with, ““Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.” And the law and the prophets is where it comes from. In Leviticus 19:18 it says, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This same verse is repeated in Luke, James, John and the letters to the Galatians, and the Romans. It is the ultimate answer to the ultimate “are you serious” question.
Do I have to be nice to that person? Do I have to be kind to those that are mean to me? Do I have to forgive those that hurt me or I do not like?
Are you serious? Romans 13:8-10, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
So, the ultimate answer to those “are you serious” questions is, Yes, I am serious, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
And “yes, you have to be nice to your little sister”.
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.”
March 10, 2022
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