32nd Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 3 Jn 5-8
Beloved, you are faithful in all you do for the brothers and sisters, especially for strangers; they have testified to your love before the Church. Please help them in a way worthy of God to continue their journey. For they have set out for the sake of the Name and are accepting nothing from the pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such persons, so that we may be co-workers in the truth.
Gospel: Lk 18:1-8
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
PERSISTENT IN PRAYER: In an unjust and unequal society, the marginalised people suffer the worst, particularly the widows. They suffer poverty as well as the cultural and religious abuses. The gospel of the day is about the dishonest judge rendering justice to the widow because of her constant appeal to him. The judge in the parable, represents the unjust-corrupted bureaucracy while the widow embodies the victims of the society. To receive justice the widow had to make appeal persistently. Jesus recommends persistent prayer, like that of the widow, to get the justice done. The widow did not allow the dishonest Judge to remain quiet; she kept disturbing him. Likewise, all the possible actions, like making petitions, organising rallies, non-violent protests etc., have to be adhered. These have to be done along with all the people of goodwill. Jesus has promised that God will render justice to the people.
Prayer: We pray that God gives us persistence in prayer and action to win justice for the victims in our society.
PERSISTENCE PAYS: We live in a world of instant answers and instant coffee. Often when we do not get instant answers, we throw away the towel. This is the same with our prayer life. Review your patience, especially when you feel that God is not responding immediately to your prayers. Jesus encourages and invites us to be patient and constant in prayer; “pray always without becoming weary” (Lk 18:1). The widow kept on pestering until her request was granted by an unjust judge. Do the same in prayer: be constant and persevere in prayer. If the dishonest and unjust judge is able to answer the plea of this widow, how much more will our Heavenly Father who is just, answer our prayers? Let us pray persistently.
PRAYER: Lord, grant me deep faith so that I can never tire in seeking your face.
POWER OF PRAYER: More often what like of prayer is not prayer, rather it is a desire disguised. You send up a long list of wants. You have been taught certain prayers from your childhood and you have packed it all. It has become a habit, a mechanical routine. The unjust judge in the gospel is not a parallel to God, but the other pole. Leo Tolstoy has a story; Three simple peasants sat under a tree across the lake. And all the people of the town flocked to them, regarded them as great sages. They knew no theology, no scriptures, and had no visions. When questioned by the High priests couldn’t even come up with a prayer. They just muttered: “we are three, you are three, have mercy on us”. But they did the superhuman, they walked on the waters. And their life and their humility brought the high priest to their knees. Prayer is when you can completely trust God with your life; when you can leave your life into His safe hands and when you can say in faith: ‘He knows what I need even before I know of them”. And finally, when you say, ‘let Thy will be done’. It is a meaningful prayer.
PERSEVERANCE IN PRAYER: Perseverance is the ability to keep pursuing a goal even when it seems far away. Perseverance in prayer is the disposition to keep seeking the face of God even when he seems absent. The widow in the gospel of today is rewarded due to two reasons: one, she was a widow, a vulnerable person; two, she kept coming to the judge and “bothering” him. We need to be vulnerable in the presence of God, acknowledging that we are helpless. Secondly, we need to be persistent in our prayer. As King David tells Solomon, “My son… If you seek God, he will let himself be found by you” (1Chron 28:9); we too will find God. Surely, the idea here is not praying just when we need help, but always, because we want to seek the face of God always.