Thursday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time          

            Jesus makes a bold statement about prayer in today’s gospel reading. He tells us, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find knock and the door will be opened to you.”

            This statement sounds nice but it does not square off with our personal experiences. Marami sa mga dasal natin ang hindi natutugunan sa paraang nais natin o inaasahan natin. How do we reconcile today’s gospel passage with our lived experience?

            “Ask and you will receive.” What do you notice in this sentence? Take note that Jesus’ sentence does not have a direct object. Hindi niya sinabi sa pangungusap na ito kung ano eksakto ang ibibigay sa atin. Sa huling bahagi na ng ebanghelyo naging malinaw kung ano ang ibibigay o ipagkakaloob sa atin: “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.” This is the key to understanding what prayer is all about. We see here the “direct object” of Jesus’ statement in verse 9 of today’s gospel passage, which we can re-state in this way: “Ask and you will receive the Holy Spirit; seek and you will find the Holy Spirit; knock and the door will be opened to you by the Holy Spirit.”

            For Luke, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate and greatest gift. It is a gift of acceptance and courage to face problems; it is a gift of enlightenment and understanding; it is a gift of ability to do God’s will; it is a gift of joy and peace rooted in God’s love for us; Prayers that appear to go unanswered are answered in surprising ways, but in God’s own time. The emptiness of seemingly unanswered prayers is filled by the gifts of God’s Spirit.

            We should be persistent in prayer, not so much to persuade or convince or compel God about what we want – but to prepare ourselves to receive what we really need. We might want prosperity, success or health; but what we might really need is patience, wisdom, and peace. Let us ask for these things, and we will receive them. Let us seek after these higher gifts, and we will find them. Let us knock in faith for things that are of real value, and in fact they will be given to us.

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