THE PARABLES OF JESUS

The Bothersome Neighbor

Scripture:  Luke 11:5-8

5 And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; 7 and he will answer from within, `Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him  whatever he needs.

Meditation: What can we expect from God, especially when we recognize that he doesn't owe us anything and that we don't deserve his grace and favor? Jesus used an illustration from the hospitality customs of his time to show how God is always ready to treat us with the best he has to offer. The rule of hospitality in biblical times required that every guest, whether stranger or friend, be warmly welcomed, refreshed (which often involved the washing of feet), and fed with the best food and drink available. It didn't matter what time of the day or night the guests might show up, it was your duty to stop what you were doing so you could give the guests the best care and shelter you could provide. If there wasn't adequate sleeping accomdation for both your guests and your family, the family slept outside under the stars. When guests showed up in a village, the whole community could be prevailed upon to provide whatever was needed.

Jesus' parable of the importunate and bothersome neighbor shows a worst case scenario of what might happen when an unexpected guest shows up in the middle of the night! The family awakens, unbolts the locked door to receive the guest, then washes the guest's feet, and the wife begins to prepare a meal. When the wife discovers that she has no bread to set before the guest, she prevails on her husband to go and get bread from a nearby family, who by now is also asleep with their door bolted shut. In a small village it would be easy for the wife to know who had baked bread that day. Bread was essential for a meal because it served as a utensil for dipping and eating from the common dishes. Asking for bread from one's neighbor was both a common occurrence and an expected favor. To refuse to give bread would bring shame because it was a sign of inhospitality.

God's generosity towards us
If a neighbor can be imposed upon and coerced into giving bread in the middle of the night, will not God, our heavenly Father and provider, also treat us with kind  and generous care no matter how troubling or inconvenient the circumstances might appear? Jesus states emphatically, How much more will the heavenly Father give! St. Augustine of Hippo (340-425 AD) reminds us that "God, who does not sleep and who awakens us from sleep that we may ask, gives much more graciously." The Lord Jesus assures us that we can bring our needs to our heavenly Father who is always ready to give not only what we need, but more than we can ask. God gives the best he has. He freely pours out the blessing of his Holy Spirit upon us so that we may be filled with the abundance of his provision. Do you approach your heavenly Father with confidence in his mercy and kindness towards you?

"Heaven Father, you are merciful, gracious and kind. May we never doubt your love nor hesitate to seek you with confidence in order to obtain the gifts, graces, and daily provision we need to live as your beloved sons and daughters and disciples of Jesus Christ our Savior."


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