Commentary on the Gospel of

Eileen Burke-Sullivan - Creighton University's Division of Mission and Ministry


In today’s gospel of Matthew Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you  will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Jesus follows this with a guarantee, “For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I think there is a direct relationship between these two readings.  What I ask has a great deal to do with who I ask – in other words it depends upon our relationship.  It depends upon what I believe and trust the other can deliver.

A child, for example, may ask and receive in complete confidence and trust food, shelter, clothing and comfort. However, many learn early on that to ask, is not to receive – but to be denied and abandoned. Many know to ask only for certain things from certain people, again depending upon the established relationship. Many of us have given up asking all together.

What I dare to ask of God depends upon who/what I experience God to be.  Is God the healing force who I turn to in times of illness, begging for physical relief for me or someone I love?  Is God the source of joy I turn to in gratitude when I am feeling so richly blessed?  Is God the pillar of strength in times of struggle, pain and vulnerability?  Is God the career counselor in times of unemployment?  Is it my experience that God says “no” as often as “yes” – or more so?  Is God the puppeteer who can make things happen, if God wants?

“Who do you say I am?” asks Jesus.  There is a note of longing and maybe a hint of incredulity.  You have no idea who I am or maybe, How can you not know who I am!

In the scriptures we read that Jesus most certainly did cure many  - deaf to hear, lame to walk, blind to see. Jesus most certainly did feed the hungry and brought comfort to many.  But most assuredly, Jesus did not cure all the ill, nor did Jesus feed all the hungry, nor did Jesus alter the social, psychological, or physical situations of all in need.  What Jesus did do was invite all to “come to me.”  He offered himself as a source of companionship, solace to those in need.  He offered himself as a model to those who would follow him. He offered himself as faithful companion for the journey.

The mystery of God is just that – a mystery. The irony in the person of Jesus is that in calling and encouraging me to ask, seek, & knock, God also asks, seeks and knocks on my heart.

During this joyful season of Lent, I might want to encourage God to ask, seek and knock on my heart as a way of getting to know, of deepening my relationship with God. What are God’s desires for me? What will be the special graces and gifts of the season?  What sort of relationship does God have in mind for us?  A God who calls me “Beloved” can only have goodness in store for me!

May this time of Lent be an eye and heart opening experience.

You may ready also the following commentary --------------------

When a major racial uprising occurred some years back in Los Angeles, a truck driver found himself in the wrong part of town, was dragged from his truck, and nearly died at the hands of his assailants. Later when the trial took place, the man’s testimony left a lasting impression. He insisted that he had forgiven his assailants and wished them well. When asked why he had such a tranquil position, he claimed that this is what his faith asked of him and he could do no less.

Ezekiel today presents an interesting picture of conversion: one can be converted to good or to evil. The prophet makes a strong appeal to leave evil behind and embrace the good.

And what does our Gospel say apropos of this topic? It cen­ters wholly on forgiveness, even things that we might consider of secondary importance. But the Gospel does not consider forgive­ness secondary. Any spirit of anger, which means holding on to an injury, is excluded. When anger is allowed to fester, the situation worsens, often with forms of invective foreign to the Christian spirit. We are told not to come before the Lord in worship until peace is made. Christians should avoid public litigation and make every effort to settle out of court.

Some people say, “I will forgive, but I won’t forget.” But this is incomplete forgiveness. In the course of daily life, differences and disagreements are inevitable. But a spirit of animosity gains us nothing and is a constant reproach to our conscience. Often in public prayer we ask God to forgive us as we forgive others. We pray that this be a blessing and not a reproach.


Points to Ponder

The courage to forgive

Forgiveness, a sign of moral strength

Forgiving and forgetting

“Forgive us as we forgive”


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