You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so much for nothing?, if it really was for nothing. Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
The Lord has raised up for us a mighty saviour
in the house of David his servant,
as he promised by the lips of holy ones,
those who were his prophets from of old. R./
A saviour who would free us from our foes,
from the hands of all who hate us.
So his love for our fathers is fulfilled
and his holy covenant remembered. R./
He swore to Abraham our father
to grant us, that free from fear,
and saved from the hands of our foes,
we might serve him in holiness and justice
all the days of our life in his presence. (R./)
And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he answers from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
"So I say to you, 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 a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Persistence is based on the assurance that we really will find what we seek. No one can keep on asking all through the night if they were not already sustained by God's Holy Spirit. We treasure this Holy Spirit within us, as temples of God (1 Cor 3:16). If we believe, it is under the impulse of God's mysterious presence. Paul assures us that this Spirit "witnesses within our spirit that we are truly God's children" (Rom 8:16).
Instead of the religious word, "perseverance," Luke brings us down to earth by the more secular word, "persistence". While "perseverance" echoes the way to heaven, there's a taste of stubbornness about "persistence". Such indeed is the tone and attitude of Jesus' short parable.
The social custom of that culture demands that the door be opened even to someone who arrives in the middle of the night. Maybe we should not bang on our neighbour's door at midnight in order to borrow some bread. Jesus is not saying what is right or wrong here. The point of his parable is in its last line. The neighbour obliges, not because of friendship but because of the other's persistence, and then gives as much as is needed.
Jesus takes the point further by appealing to parents' care and attention towards their children. Does a mother give a snake when a child asks for fish? He acknowledges the basic goodness and fidelity of every human being, yet he also wants our relationships to deepen and become still more reliable:, with God's help. If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children good things, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. God gives part of himself, his own Holy Spirit so that our own good actions manifest his divine goodness and reach beyond our dreams and expectations.