“Daddy, where did you get a Scorpion?”

by Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

“scorpion, Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 1996_05_25.jpg”by maholyoak is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

As I sat down to write this, my two year old son whom I had just put to bed started calling for me.  But I knew he was fine – I could see him on the baby monitor safe in his bed, he had a full belly, a drink of water next to him, it was nice and cool in his room, we had already done stories and prayers.  So I knew it was just a ploy to stay awake as long as possible.

He quieted down for a few minutes, and I sat back down to write.  Then he called out for me again.  I went over to his door, told him I loved him and to go to sleep, and then came back to this.

A few minutes later, he summoned me a third time.  I knew he wasn’t going to give up, so I went in and asked what he could possibly need.  Apparently he realllllly wanted to hear another bedtime story about the Snizzlesnat (I made up the Snizzlesnat a few nights before…not quite sure what it looks like yet…but it likes to go fishing and sometimes it reels in giraffes and unicorns).  

He finally got to sleep and I finally got a chance to look at the Gospel reading for this Sunday, and lo and behold, Jesus is telling the story of a visitor coming to the door at midnight asking for bread, and how the friend will eventually give in, if not because of their friendship, because of the visitor’s persistence.  The extra Snizzlesnat story was a little of both (but primarily because of my son’s persistence).  

Jesus uses this example to teach us about being persistent in our prayer.  Not that we’ll eventually wear God down so he gives in to our request for the winning lottery tickets, but Jesus wants us to persist in prayer because we learn to depend on God that way, and sometimes it’s God’s will that a particular prayer will be answered after weeks, months, or even years of persisting in our prayer (and think how close to God we’ll be if we do that!)

Then Jesus goes on, “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?”  Well full disclosure, I have handed my son a snake when he asked for a fish.  But they were stuffed animals, so maybe this doesn’t apply.  I was really proud of my scripture-themed dad-joke.  And when he asks me for an egg, I usually give it to him since 1) I’m happy he’s eating something and 2) I don’t even know where I’d find a scorpion in the suburbs of New Jersey.

I love my kids and as Jesus says, though I’m far from perfect, I know how to give them what is good.  And God the Father knows how to give us what is good even more so, especially when we ask him for the Holy Spirit.  Asking God for a further outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life is like saying to him, “Dad, I want more of you, I want to be around you as much as I can and I want you to teach me to be just like you.”  When my son wants to wear the same color shirt as me or wants to pretend to cut the grass like I do, it just melts my heart as a dad.  God wants us to come close to him and to remember that he is our dad, and when we tell him that we want to be like him and we persist in our prayer, it melts his heart too. 

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