29th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Call to worship
Jesus tells us today that we must seek justice with strength and persistence so that we can change the hearts of those who are complacent and unfair.
- To the point: The widow’s persistence in petitioning the judge is to change his mind so that he will render a just decision. Our prayer is not a matter of changing God’s mind. Persistent prayer is about faithful relationship to God it expands our expectations of how God is to act. God always acts justly. The gospel challenge is to keep on praying to a God who wills only good for us. Sometimes this requires that we must change our minds.
- Connecting the Gospel (Luke 18: 1-8) to the first reading: The obvious connection between these readings is that Moses and the widow persist in their petitions. But there are other connections as well: the widow and Moses are God’s “chosen ones;” the petitions are in line with God’s will; prayer petitions, when just, are always answered by our just and caring God.
- Connecting the Gospel to experience: We tend to be most persistent about what is most important to us — we are persistent in exercise, athletic training, musical practice. So it is with prayer: we remain faithful in prayer when God is at the center of our life and what we ask flows from the deep faith that God always hears and answers us.
Every three years, this image of Moses returns to remind us about the persistence of prayer. When Moses lowers his arms, the enemy prevails. So, until sunset and victory, Aaron and Hur become living crutches for his aching shoulders.
This is the perseverance Paul recommends — “preach the word, stay with the task whether convenient or not … never lose patience.”
But there are so many days when the battle seems to have no end. Who will prop up my arms wearied with prayer? Why even bother when my begging brings no relief?
Jesus answers: A widow pleaded before a corrupt judge for vindication. Irritation rather than compassion finally moved the judge to help her. How different is our God from this corrupt judge! God is eager to answer our cries. And yet, chants arise from Dachau, requiems from Rwanda, dirges from bloody wars, screams from desolate ghettos. Lost in the din of history is the weeping of battered children, abandoned souls, lost hearts, unwelcomed immigrants. Who can prop up the outstretched aching arms of humanity?
Free of the limits of our time and space, God made our outstretched arms his own in Jesus crucified who, in crushing loss, cried out: “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” Those who follow this Christ never give up. We are persistent in prayer and faith — our hands extended in service, our entire bodies struggling to uplift and support each other. Justice will prevail; we give our entire lives to the effort.
(Luke 18: 1-8)
Because this widow keeps bothering me, I shall deliver a just decision for her.
Persistence made the crotchety judge give in to the tough old widow.
Lord, you made this crystal clear: to petition is good, to pester even better.
We come to you like the widow, banging on your door, day and night.
Put her type of faith into our hearts.
The First Reading
(Exodus: 17: 8-13)
Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one
on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
The staff of God was too much for him.
Moses’ arms became weary.
Aaron and Hur, one on each side,
held those hands up until sunset.
Lord, when hope, energy and prayer wane,
let Aaron or Hur — or any friend — support us.
Help us endure, through your friends.
Let us never stop praying that you win all the battles.
The Second Reading
(2 Timothy 3: 14- 4:2)
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus: proclaim the word.
Lord, we ask for fidelity in faith and wisdom.
Let us proclaim your word in all our actions,
whether we feel like it or not.
Copyright © 2019, Anne M. Osdieck
Music for reflection