Gospel Reflection: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

TWENTY- NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

OCTOBER 16, 2016

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The Word of God is living and effective,

Discerning reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 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?

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION

Today we have another parable recorded by Saint Luke, and again a dishonest official is used to unfold God’s justice and His generous mercy.  Since last Christmas we have been meditating on Saint Luke’s Gospel and the particular divine perspective that Saint Luke provides for us.

God is a just God, and because of His justice, His mercy is without limit for those who are defenseless.  Those identified by the Bible as the most vulnerable are widows and orphans.  Therefore, from Saint Luke’s perspective, the parable of the vulnerable, persistent widow and the dishonest judge is a story of little David and giant Goliath.  Saint Luke is always contrasting the rich, self-secure, self-righteous and the poor, vulnerable (last week’s lepers) and the humble.

God’s mercy and benevolence is accessible to those who recognize their need and God’s dependability, and not their own power and accomplishments.   God’s heart is always moved by the child-like who recognizes that they will perish without the attentiveness of the all-merciful God!

In the Lord’s own words, the judge is a: dishonest judge, and in the judge’s own words: I neither fear God nor respect any human being.   So then, this judge is the most unlikely person to represent God.  Indeed, the judge may represent God’s position as an arbitrator, but the judge, in no ways manifests the heart of God.

The exaggerated contrast between our Just God, and the dishonest judge; and the insensitive judge and the persistent widow, allows Saint Luke to emphasize God’s merciful attentiveness to those who call upon Him in prayer.  The unjust judge concedes to the widow’s wishes because: this widow keeps bothering me …. and because, lest she finally come and strike me.  The judge gives in because he was forced to do so.  Unlike the judge, God does not need to be forced to listen to us and grant us what we really need.  God always listens to us, not as a judge at our trial, but as a father holding in His arms His children who recognize His faithfulness.

Jesus describes the parable as one about: the necessity … to pray always without becoming weary.   So, we are to pray consistently and persistently, but without becoming weary.  Our persistence is not a form of manipulation used as a way to force God to do something He does not want to do.  God seizes every opportunity to be our Heavenly Father who truly cares.  Our persistence is for our welfare, not God’s.  Our persistence in prayer strengthens our desire for God, and deepens our confidence in Him.  It allows us to confirm in our hearts that God is truly Our Father!

As we open ourselves up to God’s gracious mercy and love in prayer, God, in turn fills us up with Himself.  Too many Christians still think that prayer is our way of informing God of things He does not know, or that prayer is providing God guidance in how to be good to us!  Prayer is first and foremost opening oneself to the goodness of God who desires to make us more and more like Himself.   God wants to fill us up with what He knows we need, not with what we think we need!

If we approach God as a widow in need, our God will be there to listen attentively.  The Divine Judge is filled with mercy, and desires to apply it always to a receptive believer.  The Gospel ends with a question from the divine lips of Jesus: when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?  One who approaches God with humility and confidence will be able to answer the question of Jesus with a strong YES!

 

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)

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