Lenten Gospel Reflection for Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 -- Matthew 7:7-12
Today's reading in the Gospel of Matthew finds us, at least according to some, potentially opening a Pandora's box of wishes, However, as with every other passage of verses, we must be careful to keep a contextual perspective. Prosperity Gospel preachers utilize this and other similar passages and insinuate that all you have to do is "Name it, and Claim It." According to them, health and prosperity are only a prayer away. They ignore passages preceding this one that extol the necessity of avoiding hypocrisy, maintaining an attitude of humility, and seeking God's will. What about Luke's version of the Beatitudes in 6: 20-22?
"Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man."
This is speaking about heavenly rewards, not in the here and now.
Our rewards are eternal, not necessarily temporal, or realized here in this lifetime. No. We're not promised a rose garden life as Christians. We're also warned that the Christian life will be particularly challenging. They hated and brutally murdered Jesus. Our savior warns that to be his followers, we MUST be prepared to pick up our own cross of suffering. Rather than an abundance of blessings, we are encouraged to keep a proper perspective and strive to finish the race.
God does want the best for his children, just as we pray that our offspring. We grieve when our children go down the wrong path as God disapproves when we fall short of his Holy ideals.
NO. Today's reading doesn't present us with a prosperity gospel message where if you don't get your heart's desire, somehow you just didn't have enough faith. I've prayed some huge, heartfelt tears in my life, asking for things that were (at the time) hugely important, only to have them seemingly ignored. But, looking back, I can clearly see that God had something better in mind for me.
At 63 years old, my wife and I are hosting some young grandchildren for a season. It's a stark reminder of how emotional our wants and needs can become. It's also interesting to look at these cute little girls and reflect on my own life and how often I thought at that age if I didn't get something I desperately wanted, that the world would come to an end. Mom and dad always seemed to know better. How much more does this analogy apply to our Heavenly Father?
Lord, let my constant prayer become "Thy will be done." Instill in me a heart of gratitude, an attitude of the Beatitudes. Lord the Older I get, the more I've come to understand how much higher your ways and thoughts are from your children. Help me, I pray, and those who read these reflections strive to keep a proper perspective in reading and understanding your word. Father, keep us free from the deception of Modernism, and their out-of-context doctrine.
GOSPEL -- Matthew 7:7-12
Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; 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. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”