Saturday of the 32nd Week of the Year

Luke 18:1-8

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

I know a couple who got married late. They remained childless for several years. They prayed hard to God for a child, until they were gifted with twins. However, the babies had complications and they survived in the hospital for only several days. They did not lose hope and they still kept on praying to God to send them a child, until one day, they met a lady who was looking for a couple who would adopt her baby. They believed God answered their prayers.

The widow in our gospel granted a just decision by the dishonest judge because she was so persistent. How much more is God willing to answer the prayers of his children! We must always remain persistent and hopeful. God answers prayers in his own time and in his wisdom. (Rev. Cyrus T. Mercado, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

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I remember St. Augustine for giving me the thought that prayer is preparing to receive the good that God wants to give us. Jesus had even said that God the Father knows our needs even before we ask him. Hence, our contact with God in prayer is to hear from Him the good that He wants to give us and to ready ourselves for His granting. Our constant prayer is really an act to tell ourselves that we are ready to receive that good he wants to give us.

How is this so? When we look at our lives, we realize that we usually do what we can and when confronted with something beyond our resources and strengths, we seek help from others. We don’t just seek anyone around. We approach someone whom we know can help us. Hence, before we even go to that someone, we retrieve from memory something very much akin to whatever we need which we can’t achieve by ourselves but that someone can.

Memory then “calls us,” and our going to that someone signifies our faith in that someone. Prayer then becomes an act of faith, a way of telling ourselves that we will receive the good we know that someone can give us.

The widow in the gospel knew that only the judge could give her the just judgment she needed. Her persistent “bothering” became the indicator that she was ready to receive the just judgment only the judge could give.

In our prayer life, we know we will receive whatever we ask for when we remember That Someone who can give it to us. We pray because we know he can give us the good we need. Prayer thus becomes a way of faith, a way of “remembering the marvels the Lord has done for us” and will continue to do for us. (Fr. Bernard Collera, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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A story is told of a man who fled from his enemies and took refuge in a worn-out, dilapidated building. He caught sight of a small ant carrying a grain bigger than itself and having difficulty in climbing up to the top of a wall. The man looked intently at the ant and counted the number of times the grain dropped from the ant as it went up the wall. The grain felt 67 times! Finally, after 67 times, the ant managed to reach the top of the wall. The man saw the perseverance and persistence of the ant. He came to realize that falling down is not defeat; defeat happens when you refuse to get up. He said to himself, “I am by no means inferior to an ant.” Then he resolved to turn a new leaf in his life.

The parable in today’s gospel tells of the persistence and perseverance of a widow. She did not give up nor get discouraged when she was refused help by the judge, “who neither feared God nor respected any human being.” She kept on asking the judge to render her a just decision, until the judge granted her request finally, though obviously not out of compassion, but simply to get rid of her.

Our Lord reminds us to pray always and not to lose heart nor get discouraged when our prayers are not immediately answered. Unlike the judge, Jesus assures us of his help, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you….” (Lk 11:9). St. Paul, who sees the importance of praying without losing heart, exhort us, “Praying without ceasing,” (1Thess 5:17) “Persevere in prayer…” (Col 4:2).

Are we steadfast and persevering in our prayer? Do we easily give in to discouragement when our prayers are not readily answered? Are we aware that the Lord answers our prayers in his own time and in his own way because, as a loving God, He wants only what is best for us? (Sr. Frances grace Solis, SSpS Bible Diary 2009)

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by Roc O’Connor, S.J.

Rector and Campus Ministry

Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Wisdom 18:14-16; 19:6-9
Psalm 105:2-3, 36-37, 42-43
Luke 18:1-8

What a wonderful and challenging confluence of scripture readings!

The selection from the Book of Wisdom is one of a number of scriptural meditations on God’s fundamental act of salvation in the Hebrew bible, the Exodus. God saved lowly Israel. God saves even today! That’s the basic proclamation.

The gospel passage from Luke quite consciously addresses “the necessity for them [the disciples] to pray always without becoming weary.” It’s the conclusion of the piece which echoes that message: “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?”

Seems to me that these scriptures raise the exceedingly gnarly issues of petitionary prayer, divine timing, and the plight of the lowly. For example, the joy of Israel at their deliverance, as portrayed in the first reading, stands in contrast to the comment in Exodus 12:40 that the people had remained in Egypt 430 years before their going out!

Is God slow to answer prayer? Yes. Is justice done for the lowly speedily? No. As I see it, this all points to one major challenge for believers: Why? My answer? I don’t know. I don’t like it.

Seems to me further that typical responses include things like: “God doesn’t answer prayers that would be bad for you.” Or, “Maybe you don’t pray hard enough.” Or, “Well, it’s up to us to make some things happen for the lowly. We’ve not been engaged in working for justice for the lowly enough.”

Here’s what I have come to at this point in my life. Making petitions to God first of all sets me (and the Church) before the Mystery. There, I cannot control any outcomes, for good or for ill. God is not a rich uncle who responds to my every need or my every whim. So, offering petitions “without ceasing” is an act of trust and hope and endurance. And, I’m not so good at that.

Second, petitionary prayer is essentially an act of praise to the God of salvation and liberation. God saves! “You can do this, not me!” This seems like praise to me.

Lastly, sometimes I am able to make this connection: Inasmuch as I am frustrated by the slowness of God to act “justly” on my behalf or for those for whom I pray, perhaps they are even more frustrated. I get a glimpse of sharing their burdens of longing, hoping, and enduring.

So, that’s a bit of my story as a pilgrim on the way. How about you?

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WORD Today (Wis 18:14-16, 19:6-9; Luke 18:1-8): “Pray always without becoming weary,” (Luk 18:1).

Christ assures us that our Father won’t delay in helping His children who plead with Him persistently. Of course “delay” is relative. God is outside of time and His timing is far different from ours. “With God, one day is a thousand years and a thousand years as one day,” (2Pt 3:8).

Then Christ turns the table on us and asks, how is your faith? (Lk 18:8). Are we delaying our promise to “forgive those who have sinned against us” (Lord’s Prayer)? Or to “believe in the Holy Catholic Church” (Apostles’ Creed)? God is more open to those who persistently pray with faith and faithfulness that match their prayers (Fr. Iko Bajos Oct 16, 2013)

CATECHISM a Day (Luke 18:1): Christ told His disciples a parable about the necessity  for them to pray always without getting weary.

Christ teaches us to PRAY (CCC 2614)

When Christ openly entrusts to His disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their  prayer and ours must be once he has returned to the Father in His glorified humanity. What’s new is to ask in His name. faith is the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father because Christ is the way, the Truth and the Life. Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping Christ’s word and His Commandments, it means abiding with Him in the Father who, in Him, so loves us that he abides with us. In this new covenant the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on Christ’s prayer 9Fr. Iko Bajos Oct 17, 2013).

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Saturday of the 32nd Week of the Year

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