YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 29TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: PRAY PERSISTENTLY
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Sunday Gospel: Lk 18:1-8 (The Persistent Widow)
Message #503: “Have Confidence and Great Hope”
(TO THE PRIESTS, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, Marian Movement of Priests)
- The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother comforts her priest-sons: “Have confidence in your heavenly Mother who is ever close to you, to be of assistance and comfort to you in your priesthood” (letter b). “Do not feel yourselves alone” Never become discouraged” (letter c). Definitely, this message is not only for priests, but also for all of her sons and daughters. Life is this world is never easy. And we encounter challenges, difficulties and persecutions every day. The Blessed Mother assures us of her maternal protection and comfort: “I am always close to you, as a good and understanding mother, and I am supporting, leading, consoling and encouraging you” (letter d).
b) The Blessed Mother also assures us of victory, even though we are in the midst of insurmountable difficulties and severe trials: “Have great hope in the full triumph of God for this poor humanity, so ill and so far from Him” (letter e).
c) All these consoling and encouraging words of the Blessed Mother are geared towards making us reliable and strong witnesses of faith, holiness and love (letter f). In the midst of the massive apostasy, “be witnesses of faith.” In these times of great perversions, “be witnesses of holiness.” And “in a world which has become hard and insensitive, consumed and dried up by egoism, hatred, violence and wars”, “be witnesses of love.”
d) This message leads us to only one conclusion: we have to be close to our Blessed Mother. Our devotion to her must further intensify and deepen: “Spend the present hour in the Gethsemane of my Immaculate Heart, and set yourselves to carry out with love the Will of your Heavenly Father” (letter e). This is the reason why Mary demands that we multiply cenacles of prayer. As we gather regularly in prayer and study, the Blessed Mother joins us, making her motherly presence felt by us, giving us comfort, hope, encouragement and joy as we are “living the painful years of the great tribulation.”
- The Sunday Readings
a) The first reading is about an event in the Book of Exodus. This was the battle of the Israelites against the forces of Amalek. Undoubtedly, the enemies were stronger, but the Israelites have God on their side. While Joshua led his warriors in the battle, Moses was on top of the hill, in fervent prayer to God. “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight.” Eventually, the Israelites won the battle. This illustrates the power of prayer.
b) The Responsorial Psalm is a declaration of a sublime truth: “Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” The Church uses this as the opening greeting in liturgical celebrations.
c) The second reading comes from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy. It is an exhortation of the Apostle to Timothy as a Bishop regarding the vital importance of Sacred Scriptures and to remain faithful to it. Since “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction and for training in righteousness”, he urged Timothy to “proclaim the word, be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient, convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.”
d) In the Gospel, Jesus gave the parable of the persistent widow in order to teach the necessity to pray always without becoming weary. The Gospel reading summarizes the theme of the readings. Prayer opens the floodgates of heavenly blessings, helps us overcome all trials and enemies, and leads us closer to God. As St. Padre Pio said, “Prayer is the oxygen of our soul.”
- Reflections on the Sunday Readings
a) The Gospel gives a contrast between the judge and the widow. Who is more powerful? The judge is in position of power. But he “neither feared God nor respected any human being.” His power was based solely on his human power. The widow, on the other hand, had nothing, except her faith in God. She persisted in her prayer, and never got tired of imploring the judge for justice. In the end, she got what she wished for. Human power is no match to divine power. That is why, it is said, “The most powerful man on earth is one who kneels down and prays.” With God nothing is impossible!
b) God knows what we need. So, why do we still need to pray? The answer comes from the Lord’s exhortation: “Unless you become like little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” A good parent knows what his little child needs. Yet, he is more pleased when the child comes to him and tenderly asks a favor. This is an expression of the child’s love and affection for his parent. It is also an expression of his total trust and dependence on his parent. This is very much similar to our relationship with God. He is our loving Father; we are His beloved children. He knows everything we need, yet He is more pleased when we ask Him in faith, trust and love. Moreover, God respects our freedom. Though He knows what we need, He cannot just intervene in our life unilaterally, for this would mean encroaching on or violating our freedom. He waits for our request, and this we do through prayer.
c) Praying with perseverance or persistence is a clear expression of our trust in God. The fact is that God always listens to our prayers. And He also answers our prayers. His answer could either be one of the following three responses: “Yes”, “No”, and “Wait”. He answers us “Yes” when what we ask for is according to His divine will, which always is for our salvation. His answer is “No” when what we ask for will be detrimental to our salvation. The favor we are asking for could be something good, but God, in His infinite and unfathomable wisdom, knows it could endanger our soul. But most often, God answers our prayer with “Wait.” God knows when is the best time to grant us the favor we ask. In the meantime, we have to wait. In waiting patiently, we strengthen and deepen our faith and trust in God’s providence, wisdom and love.
d) “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith in the earth?” This is a very important question that Jesus poses to us. We are now in an era when people are losing their faith in God. Many of them put their trust in their money or their human powers more than in God. The spread of materialism and egoism has led many people to lose faith. This is precisely the reason why Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the Year of Faith, in order to address the massive apostasy going on now. And most importantly, in this statement, Jesus is giving us one clear indicator of His imminent return. He will come again. When? He states in the Gospel that one sign is when massive apostasy in the world takes place: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith in the earth?” This is happening now. And we can safely conclude that His Second Coming is very proximate. What are we doing to prepare for his coming, which is very soon?
- Closing: Sing the Lord’s Prayer
GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE BEC:
- Naniniwala ka ba na makapangyarihan ang pananalangin? Magbahagi ng personal na karanasan hinggil dito.
- Ano ang mga dahilan kung bakit ang mga tao ngayon ay tinatamad o kaya nahihirapang magdasal?
Malapit na ang pagbabalik ng Panginoong Hesus. Naniniwala ka ba rito? Ano ang paghahanda na dapat nating gawin?