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Sunday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

October 17, 2019

Sunday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time 

 October 20, 2019

World Mission Sunday

Exodus 17:8-13

Psalm 121

Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy 3:14-4:2

Luke 18:1-8

Sports in the United States have become more than a passion.  Sports in the United States has becomes an “obsession!”   Salaries for both players and team management have reached unprecedented levels.  Friends, I’m ok with all of it.  I have always enjoyed watching athletic events and always will.  Team loyalty and team spirt allows us to become emotionally connected with a team and all those who cheer for them. 

In our first reading we have a picture of the head coach of Team Israel, Moses, who is seen praying over his warriors.  Amalek is the opposition and Moses instructed his star player, team captain Joshua, to fight, and win, for his country.  Moses, for his part, will be praying up on the rim of the “stadium.”  As long as his arms were raised God gave Israel the better of the fight.  Eventually he needed help from two others to support his arm so that Israel would be victorious.   God, Moses, Joshua, Israel’s army , are all working together as their team ultimately wins the battle. The power of prayer, the power of signs, and their strong faith in God has sustained them.  Our theme today is persistence.  

In Luke’s Gospel Jesus tells His disciples the first of two parables about praying.  To experience the intensity of these stories, it is important to read the last sixteen verses of the previous chapter which sets the tone for today’s Gospel message.   Jesus has told His listeners that there is going to come a time of trial.  There will be His own Passion and signs which will frighten them and cause doubt.  The disciples will long for the comforts of His presence and they will miss His being with them.  This is the reason why Jesus teaches them about praying with “persistence.” 

In this first of two parables a nasty judge, who does not possess the “wisdom” of the Jewish tradition to honor God and care for the widows, is approached by a widow for justice.  The judge ignores her and her request, but she persists in her petitioning.  He relents, not to help her or honor his tradition but to avoid her anger. 

This seems to be a rather simple parable about how we should keep asking by pounding on “God’s door” and eventually we will get what we are asking for.  This parable is directed to the disciples who are slowly getting to understand that there is usually more to the parables than what first meets the ear.  Prayer, or persistence in asking, is more than saying words or having thoughts.  God is not a judge who is manipulated by angry words or threats.  He understands the human heart. 

The disciples are learning through this parable that their lives of fidelity are a form of prayer or relationship with God.  Waiting, hoping, watching, and longing, are parts of any loving relationship.  This parable is all about praying for God to share with this world part of who God actually is.  He is JUSTICE which is an inseparable part of LOVE.  God is intensely attentive to our collective need for loving and treating each other with care and respect.

Sisters and brothers, being stubborn and being persistent can seem similar in intensity and action.  We are invited by the readings of this Sunday liturgy to pray with desire and perseverance.  We are praying with the reality that God is on our side even when we seem to be on the other side.      

Praying is more than asking.  Praying is an intimacy which extends a particular time of praying.  We are urged to live as a prayer rather than separating prayer from our living.  We are invited to reexamine who we are to God and who God is to and for us.  We are invited to be a member of God’s Holy Team as Psalm 121 tells us, “Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

As we celebrate World Mission Sunday may we all work on God’s Team to bring relief to all those in need and pray for the end of all violence and aggression towards our fellow children of God.   

Question of the Day: Can you be persistent in your personal prayer life?

Prayer:  Father God, help me to hear Your voice when You speak to me.  Grant that I may heed your advice as I pray to you for counsel.

Prosit

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry

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