Parables of Jesus
Who among you to the son who asks for bread will give a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give a snake? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Jesus describes the behavior of the Father comparing him to that of a human father, who treats his children with care. Bread and stones are the two elements also reported in the episode of Jesus' temptations in the desert (Mt 4,4): in that case Jesus does not need to change the stones into bread, because his Father cares for him.
Jesus' question to the people "Who among you to the son who asks him for bread will give a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give a snake?", Makes the only possible answer implicit: "No one!" a stone to his own son, when he asks for bread. No father or mother gives a snake to the son when he asks them for a fish. And Jesus draws the univocal conclusion: "If you then who are evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!".
Jesus calls us bad to accentuate the certainty of being listened to by God when we ask for something good. Because if we, who are neither good nor saints, know how to give good things to our children, how much more the Father of heaven. This comparison aims to remove from our hearts any doubts about the success of the prayer addressed to God with confidence. God will listen! And it is Jesus, in the step just before the one of the questions reported here, that invites us to pray: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.
Because whoever believes receives, and whoever seeks finds, and to whomever knocks, it will be opened "[Mt 7,7-8]. But beware: to those who ask them, God only gives good things. If you ask something that does not promote your person, that does not make you mature, stay calm that you will never get anything, it will never be opened to you, nothing will ever be given to you, God does not support us in our childishness, in our laziness or in our selfishness.
Here, then, is that in the parable reported by Matthew, Jesus is committed and to guarantee that we are given in prayer that strength which serves to realize the project of the Father. God does not govern men by issuing laws, but by communicating his Spirit; then Jesus guarantees that this request of the Spirit will undoubtedly be granted. All other requests, in this way, must be understood already fulfilled, because the Father, a Father who is good towards his children, is already worried about them even before they ask him.
At this point a question may arise spontaneously: why then ask, if you already know what we need? Because in His infinite goodness the Father cannot force ours with His will: our asking means showing him total trust and preparing us to accept His help; otherwise there will be no help, neither coming from our brothers nor directly from the Father, who will be able to come to our aid, because we will not be able to see him, much less welcome him!
The message of Jesus reported by Matthew is destined for his first disciples, so that they may realize the novelty to which they are called, abandoning attitudes and thoughts completely opposed to this novelty. The evangelist presents us with the difficulty of the first disciples to welcome the novelty of Jesus' message. Jesus invites us to prayer: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you ": these words of Jesus are very precious because they express the true relationship between God and man.
Those who fear to harass God with their own little needs, make mistakes and sin of pride, because God has the power to respond to the reality of our life: God can change our situations and enter the realities of the small things of our daily life. If God did not act, if God did not have power over the concrete events of our life, how could God remain God? And if God is love, will love not find a chance to respond to the hope of those who pray? But without faith, God cannot give us true redemption. Prayer and praise are inseparable, prayer is the concrete recognition of the immense power of God and his glory, love is not an arbitrary option because love is the content of being, love is the truth. "Ask and it will be given to you", ask God that it is power and love.
What, then, can we ask of God's goodness? Jesus' answer is very simple: everything! All that is good. The good God gives only good things, and the goodness and power of God know only one limit: evil. Prayer made with trust brings all the realities and needs of life under the eyes of almighty goodness. We can ask for everything that is good. And in this sense prayer also becomes a journey of conversion, of grace, of spiritual elevation, because it separates light from darkness into our life and makes us new creatures.
The evangelist Luke is concerned only with one thing, that the prayer addressed to God does not become a pretext for human indolence; let God not ask too little, giving up asking for everything. Luke, in fact, does not limit God's power to spiritual and supernatural things: the Holy Spirit penetrates everything; but the concrete purpose of prayer is emphasized with the clarification that we "villains" cease to be such and become good only when we participate in the same goodness of God. This will be the true fulfillment of prayer: not only obtaining good things but become good ourselves. The purpose of all our questions, of all our desires, of all our needs must be joy, happiness. Even John and Matthew report in their Gospels to ask God for everything, to always seek happiness and not to stop turning to the Father who has the power and goodness to give it. Joy, in fact, is nothing but God Himself, the Holy Spirit. Seek God, ask for "joy" in his Holy Spirit, and you will have everything.
Which father among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?
Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake instead of a fish?
If he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion?
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"