Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Thursday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time

Mal 3: 13-20b; Lk 11: 5-13

Dc. Larry Brockman


Appearances can be deceiving.   


Take, for example our first reading.  People who are Godless; lie and cheat; and even appear to be proud of their evil ways seem to be prospering in Malachi’s time; whereas the God fearing, law abiding, prayerful disciples of the Lord, who are victimized by these evil doers,  just seem to suffer more and more because they are not following the ways of the world.  But all of this is just appearances.  Malachi goes on to give voice to God’s intent.  He says those who trust in the Lord will be vindicated  “On the day the Lord takes action”.  And the key here is trust- trust that the Lord will respond to our prayers and honest attempts to be righteous in His sight   


The Gospel is telling us the same thing.  One can read the Gospel parable too literally, and miss the main point.  The parable of the persistent neighbor can be viewed as a lesson by comparison.  We can draw that conclusion by comparing the response of the home owner to persistent attempts by his neighbor versus a less persistent approach by the neighbor.  And certainly that message applies.  The home owner will respond better to the persistent neighbor by comparison.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease!   


But the main message of the parable is one of contrast, not comparison- the contrast between a human person who hears an appeal and an all loving God who hears an appeal.  You see, we can relate to the role of the home owner.  We don’t want to be bothered; we don’t want our families disturbed during the middle of the night; and we are sleepy and want to go back to sleep.  But God is not sleepy, and He loves all of His children equally.  He hears our appeals and acts on them- persistence helps, but God really only has to hear our prayers once.  We can be certain of that if we believe in God.  So, there is a tremendous contrast between us, as humans, and God.  How silly it is for us to think of God hearing our appeals for help in the same way we view a neighbor hearing our appeal.   


So then, why doesn’t God seem to respond to us when we ask Him for something?  Well, because appearances can be deceiving.  Let me turn Jesus’ words around a bit.  Could it be that we are asking for a snake rather than a fish?  Ask yourselves this.  Have you ever asked for something from God, not received it, and then found out later that it was better that you did not get what you asked for.  Maybe you didn’t get one job offer, but then the next one was even better.  Or has something happened that seemed like a disaster at the time; and then later you found out that it was actually a stroke of luck- like the passenger that missed an airplane, only to discover that the plane crashed.  These are easy to see, but God always sees the whole picture, even in the subtle little things we cannot ever hope to see.   


God loves all of us, but, yes, indeed, appearances can be deceiving.    


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