Sunday of 29th Week of Ordinary C

Persistence in Prayer

Joke: The middle-aged farm couple had no children. As a last resort they put their trust in persistent prayer, and it worked. The wife became pregnant, and at the end of her term, she was delivered of triplets. “Persistent prayer really works, doesn’t it?" she asked her husband. Her husband replied, “Seems to -- but I sure as heck didn’t pray for a bumper crop!”

Persistent prayer does work, doesn’t it? It works all the time, but we need to be aware of what we pray for. Or rather how do we pray?

In all today’s readings, the Church puts together to help us understand what is a prayer? How do we pray?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them the necessity for them to pray always without weary. In this parable, a woman was identified as a widow who used to come to the judge and ask for a just decision for her against her adversary. We might want to ask ourselves: Who was it woman? Why did Jesus identify this woman as a widow and not somebody else? Was this judge a just judge? He neither feared God nor respected any human being, why did he grant a just decision for this widow? We learned from Scripture that Jesus often paid special attention to the widows and the orphans since they couldn’t defense for themselves at the time of Jesus. This was why Jesus, while he was on the cross, gave his mother Mary to his disciple John to take care of her. This widow, reported in today’s Gospel, was apparently treated unjustly that her persistence to come to nark the judge, he finally granted her a just decision. Jesus reminded his disciples and to each and every one of us to be persistent in our prayer, especially when there seemed to be impossible, but for God, everything was possible.

Persistence in prayer was also portrayed in today’s first reading the battle between the Amalek and the Israel. In today’s first reading, reported from the book of Exodus, it retold a story of a battle in which every time Moses’ hands raised up, Israel had a better fight to the point that his hands were weak. When his hands were weak, the Amalek had a better fight. In order for the Israel to have a better fight, they rolled a big rock for Moses to sit on. Meanwhile, both Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady still for the Israel to win the battle. Moses’ hands were raised to praise the Lord, and in his persistence of raising his hands up, they sure won the battle.

These two stories from the Gospel and the first reading seem to define what prayer is as a persistent way of addressing the needs to the Lord for help, a petition to the Lord for our needs. The question then, what happens when we don’t have to face any difficulty or challenge of life, and when we don’t have to face any difficult need in our life, do we still need to pray? What do we pray when we seem to have everything and anything? Does it matter or not to pray when we have everything and anything?

To answer these questions, let us examine the words of Saint Paul in today’s second reading when he says, “Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” In other words, in our prayers, either in good time or in bad, we are reminded to remain faithful to what we have learned and believed, to proclaim the word of God with our good words and good deeds to one another, to be convinced, reprimanded and encouraged through patience and the teaching of the Lord Jesus and the teaching of the Church. The question then: How would we remain faithful to the Lord’s teaching and the Church’s teaching? How would we be persistent in our prayer to the Lord in good time and in bad? Has prayer meant only words on our lips, words in our minds, or the good deeds that accompanied our petitions of the heart? Perhaps, in our prayers, we are reminded to listen rather than to speak, to allow the Lord to touch our heart rather than to allow all activities running in our minds, and to quiet ourselves to allow the Lord to speak to us rather than to be busy with petitions addressing on our lips or in our minds. Decision is yours.

 

Weekend Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Nguyen


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