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Friday, 14 October 2016

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Ninth (29th) Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Theme: Augmenting Human Efforts with Persistent Prayer

In the history of the Israelites’ journey through the desert, they were faced with several challenges. At Rephidim, there was no water for them to drink and while they murmured against Moses, Moses prayed to God for intervention. But when God decided to provide water for them from a rock, they had barely satisfied their thirst when the Amalekites rose against them as we see in the 1st reading (Exodus 17:8-13). Applying this reading to our context today, the Amalekites represent those near-success challenges that confront us when we are about to enjoy something good. It could be disappointment at the threshold of marriage, financial crisis when beginning a new business, legal dispute when acquiring a new property, etc. The examples of the leaders of Israel is presented to us today as a paradigm of our response when confronted with such challenges. What did they do?

Moses ordered Joshua to choose some men and engage the Amalekites in a battle. They did not wait for God to fight their enemies from above and so made concrete efforts to protect themselves physically. Despite their physical preparation, they did not rely only on their physical strategies. They had to augment their physical strategies with spiritual fortification. That was why Moses together with Aaron and Hur went up the hill to pray. While Moses’ hand was lifted up in prayers, the Israelites took advantage of their opponents and when his hands became tired and lowered, the Amalekites took advantage. For the Israelites to defeat their enemies, Moses’ hands were supported to remain lifted in prayer.

Christian tradition has always recognized Moses’ lifting up of hands as a symbol of persistent prayer, needed to conquer the challenges that confront us. The passage all together talks to us about the importance of making human efforts and augmenting them with the supernatural powers of persistent prayers when we are confronted with challenges. Jesus in the Gospel reading (Luke 18:1-8) buttresses the importance of persistent prayer when he tells us to pray continually and never to lose heart. An authentic Christian does not pray enough but prays until something positive happens. In the parable he gave, we find ourselves represented in this poor widow who is constantly seeking for justice from God who is represented in the unjust judge. Though God is never unjust, Jesus prefers to use this description to portray how far our persistent prayers could influence God. Persistent prayer is not simply the attitude of frequent prayer but also the manifestation of a conviction that God can and will grant our requests though in His due time.

Beloved friends, I do not know what you are passing through at the moment but I want to assure you that if you make concrete plans to help yourself and remain persistent in prayer, God will actually grant you victory over your unfavourable situations. God cannot save us without our cooperation. God used the Israelite’s army to grant them victory, He did not kill their enemies from above. The widow had to leave her house to the king’s house to make sure her complaints were heard. What do you need to do to get to your desired state? Are you prepared to contribute your own quota by taking the necessary steps or are you waiting for God to do for you what you are expected to do for yourself? There are things God expects us to do for ourselves before He can intervene. There are still other things He wants us to do as His beloved children. Most of these things are contained in His will as communicated to us through the Sacred Scriptures. We have to believe and obey them and that is why St. Paul in the 2nd reading (2 Timothy 3:14-4:2) reminds us that all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, refuting error, correcting and training in righteousness. Therefore beloved friends, prompted by the Words of the inspired Sacred Scripture today, let us pray for the grace to be persistent in prayer for a prayerful child of God is a powerful child of God. Happy Sunday for God loves you.

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