Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs." (NIV)
Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel
What strikes me the most about this parable is the audacity of faith expressed by the man who has the nerve to knock on a neighbor's door at midnight - not because of a personal crisis, but to provide hospitality for a friend. Who does that? Why would anyone expect food to be provided for the hungry at the midnight hour of closed opportunities and diminished supplies Doesn't the person knocking know what time it is? Doesn't this person realize that the day of accessibility and accommodation has long been past? Why does this person knock and keep knocking at midnight?
A continuous knock at midnight can only be motivated by a strong faith. The person knocking has astounding faith that despite the lateness of the hour and the apparent absence of bread, there is still sufficient capacity in the neighborhood to feed the hungry. In 1963, when America was suffering through a midnight of legalized segregation and unabashed racism, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared:
"We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity in this nation. So we have come to cash this check - a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."
In this current midnight of economic downturn and budgetary austerity, some of us still refuse to believe that there are no more resources to feed the hungry, educate the masses, provide expedient paths to citizenship for undocumented workers, re-invest in our infrastructure and provide affordable health care to the 30+ million Americans whose only access to health care is through emergency rooms and incarceration. Our hope in the American experiment of democracy did not die with the bygone days of American prosperity and surplus. So we keep knocking.
And we knock with the good faith that what we invest in "the least of these" at this midnight hour, will be paid back, with interest, in less crime and more high school/college graduations; less emergency care and more preventive care; lower unemployment and higher opportunity; fewer people with empty bellies and more people with high hopes.
Dear God, we know that times are tough and resources are scarce, but give us the audacity of faith and the persistence of hope to keep knocking until everyone is fed. Amen.