"Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Do we always think of ‘goods’ when we read, “Ask and it will be given you, search and you will find…?” Are the Father’s “good things” always things? Is love a thing? Things (gifts) can be signs and proofs of it, but it is not itself a thing. The Father’s greatest gift to us is love, and all the other gifts are enticements to that greatest gift.
The French mystic Jeanne Guyon (1648 – 1717) wrote: “Do not stop at the graces or gifts of God, which are only as the rays that issue from His face, but which are not Himself; mount up to His very throne and there seek Him; seek His face evermore until you are so blessed as to find it.” Psalm 104 says, “Constantly seek his face.” This is also the advice of Meister Eckhart, and indeed of all the saints; and when you think about it, its is just evidence of good breeding. There is something chilling about a business relationship that keeps human contact to an absolute minimum. The commercial world can be a very chilly place. It would be tragic if some of that chill were to enter into our relationship with God. I remember (vaguely I'm afraid) an essay by D.H. Lawrence in which he poured scorn on a writer who was unwise enough to reveal the details of his daily routine: “Rose at 6. Worshipped the deity. Ate breakfast.” That frosty description was bound to draw the ire of Lawrence, a passionate writer if ever there was one. And it made prayer seem a chore, like feeding the cat.
If we see God in that passionless way, we will be primarily interesting in what we can get. “Some people regard God as they regard a cow,” said Meister Eckhart. “They want to love God as they love a cow. Thus they love God for the sake of external riches and of internal solace; but these people do not love God aright....” He didn’t say it just once. “Some people love God for the sake of something else that is not God. And if they get something they love, they do not bother about God. Whether it is contemplation or rapture or whatever you welcome, whatever is created, is not God.” “Whoever loves God for anything else does not abide in Him, but abides in the thing he is loving Him for. If, therefore, you want to abide in Him, you must love Him for nothing but Himself.”
In that warmth, gift-giving and receiving make sense. Without it, religion is a cold-hearted business.
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