The Power of the Quest
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test."
And 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.
"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; 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. 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? 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?"
If you have a friend who knocks at the door at midnight asking for three loaves, you need to look for new friends.
The Gospel from this Sunday tells the story of people looking for something. These are all people that are not satisfied. Today's Gospel seeks to unlock the magical power of story in our lives. We all want to play a part in the great story unfolding around us. "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances." (Shakespeare, As You Like It)
We live in a world that challenges the significance and meaning of life, at the same time that it seeks meaning desperately. Is life merely a succession of events, or is there a story to every life with a beginning, a middle, and an end?
I want to underline the word from today's Gospel: "seek." To seek is to be on a quest, and a quest is always part of a story.
The word 'quest' itself has magical connotations. It holds in its bosom the promise of an adventure, the mystery of the unknown, and is pregnant with all kinds of possibilities. Adventure stories are replete with the hero going on a quest to dispel dark forces, to win a fair maiden's hand or to vanquish a terrible monster. The hero's quest is filled with the fear of the unknown and the excitement of potential fulfillment. Quests are intricate to the fabric of human life as they create a sense of worth and the satisfaction of accomplishment. (Borderless Technology Corp. (2018). The Importance of Questing in Creating Motivation)
What are we looking for in life?
We want a connection with the transcendent. We want to take care of our daily sustenance. We want to participate in something larger than ourselves.
Connection with the transcendent
The disciples want to pray. They do not know how. They can sense that they should be able to connect to something greater than themselves, but it somehow seems locked away. Since they were small children, they had heard the stories of salvation history in Israel. But they did not feel themselves a part of what was happening.
It is easy for us as well to feel disconnected. We can feel shipwrecked, tossed at sea, with no way of making the mainland. We want somebody to reach down and pull us out of the stormy water. That someone is God, and it happens through prayer. Whenever you feel that you are lost, alone, or afraid, pray. God will listen. If you think you do not have the words, use the words of the Our Father.
Money seems always to be tight. People worry about money, bread, car payments, and troubles on the horizon, among other things. Christ brings everyday problems to the attention of his listeners. They know he is near, not someone disconnected from real-life issues. He wants to help us as well with our everyday problems.
We all want to be part of something important. We want to be the hero in a story that matters. On our deathbeds, we want to look back at life and realize that we have made a difference. Christ reaches out and shows us that we can always find meaning by seeking him and following him. The true adventure in life is to find Christ and prepare ourselves for an eternity with him.