The Good News for the day, February 22, 2018
Thursday of the First Week of Lent (227)
Jesus says to those following him: “Ask—it will be given you; seek—you’ll find; knock—the door gets opened for you. Everyone who asks, gets it; someone who seeks, finds; and for anyone who knocks, the door gets opened. Which one of you would hand his son a rock when the boy asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he might ask for a fish to eat? If you, then, bad as you might be, know how to give the right kind of handout to your own children, how much more will your divine Father give good things to persons who ask Him for them. … Everything you want people to do for you—do for them. This is it—the whole law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7)
These words combine prayer with the “golden rule”–how to consider other people mirrors of you in your outlook (the Law, the Tradition) and behavior (the Prophets, how to act). Perhaps you can come to appreciate the underlying link between these two—prayers you address to God, on the one hand, and, on the other, your outlook/behavior and how you act towards other people.
In your real prayers, you talk to God as “You”—a Person free and loving, thoughtful and kind, “out there”—but also “here, present.” You know that God is not an “it,” a graven image, statue or painting—not even, in the end, male or female, the way “you” is neither male nor female. You ask, wonder, need and converse in a real way with a real Person—and God is free to answer (you know that) with a “no.”
Your treatment of others is the same. Everybody around you is a “you”—not an “it.” What you say, however you act, and no matter your outlook, that other person is “another you,” and capable of freedom, just as capable of disagreement or agreement, of saying to you, “yes” or “no.”
As a result—deep down–your outlook-and-behavior, the Law and the Prophets, is the same whether you are praying to God or interacting with your fellow humans. You respect another’s dignity, freedom and behavior. You expect them to do the same; the answer may be “no,” though the response may appear to you as a gift or an insult. That is the problem—but it is also the solution—expecting the Freedom of the Other, and the acceptance that—beyond appearances—it is in either case, a response that is a call, a message, for you to respond by changing, growing. You accept it.