Jesus said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
Jesus said: Suppose one of you has a friend …
Recently I was leading an assembly in our local primary school. I was going to end up by reflecting upon the school values of Respect, Trust, Partnership & Equality. As I began my assembly I asked who had a ‘best friend’? Every child in that assembly raised their hand. Similarly, most of them glanced in the direction of the one they thought of as their best friend. From that positive starting point it was not difficult to lead into a consideration of how those school values might be viewed and interpreted in respect of those very special friendships. In today’s reading Jesus is inviting us into a similar moment of reflection. Jesus is, in effect, asking us who our best friend is.
Jesus outlines a scenario in which a friend and neighbour cannot be bothered to give the urgent assistance that is required. The sleepy neighbour … and friend? … does eventually give the help that is needed, but only after much cajoling and persuasion. It is in this context that Jesus says: Suppose one of you has a friend …
After his short parable about the inconsistency and unreliability of human friendship, Jesus takes us into a very different place. Jesus then describes a friendship that should be at the heart of all our lives. Yes, we have human ‘best friends’, but we also have a best friend who will never let us down, no matter how hard we try his forbearance and love. That friend, of course, is God.
Yesterday, we reflected upon Jesus’ gift to humanity of the Lord’s Prayer. Today, Jesus is once again speaking of the power of prayer. Jesus wants us all to know that we have a best friend who is always with us, and will never be too inconvenienced by our needs. Jesus tells us to Ask, to Search, and to Knock, because whenever we approach God in faith he will answer, he will be found, and he will open the door on a new life for each and every one of us … if we let him, of course.
The world presents us with an unrelenting series of challenges. Some of those challenges we brush aside as we and our earthly ‘best friends’ face up to them and deal with them. But, some challenges will seem insurmountable. Not even our ‘best friends’ will be able to help. The message in today’s reading is that we should never ignore our real ‘best friend’ … God. Even when we think we can cope through our own efforts, God can do better. And when the going gets really tough, there is certainly no one better than God at being there and opening the door on a new way forward.
Let us pray that we might never forget that God is our best friend in all situations. Let us pray that we might never forget to take our hopes and fears, our joy and our despair to God. Let us pray that we might never forget to allow God the time and space to open that door onto a new reality, a reality that will bring us ever closer to the one who created us in his own image, and who gave his only Son in order that we might have that new life.
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