17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday, July 24 2022
“Who Is God in This Story?”
The parable about the friend going to his neighbor late at night to ask for bread provides an interesting image of God if we think that we are the “friend” and God is the “neighbor.” If this is the case, then it seems that we need to “bother” and “bug” God for what we need. While this schema seems to fit with the first reading where Abraham “bothers” and “bargains” with God to save the town, it does not fit with the rest of the gospel passage. Here, Jesus asks: “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?”
Indeed, this parable is similar to another one in Luke’s gospel, the parable of the persistent widow (Lk 18:1-5). In this parable, a woman continues to “pester” an unjust judge until he gives her a good and fair judgement. We might think that we are like the woman and God is like the judge, who only gives us what we need if we “bother” or “pester” God. But, again, is this consistent with what we have learned about God from Jesus?
The solution to this small dilemma is to make different substitutions of the characters. What if we are the neighbor who is disturbed late at night, and we are the judge that refuses to give the judgement AND it is God who is the friend asking for bread or the poor woman asking for a judgment? This arrangement fits much better with the image of God that Jesus reveals to us. Rather than us trying to change and alter God’s view of things, it is we who need to be changed and altered by God. So, God continues to come to us and knocks at our doors, asking us to be open and generous to those in need, and it is God who never gives up seeking what is good and right from us on behalf of others.