29th. Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“It Is Difficult At Times To Hold On To One’s Faith.”
Christ who opened his ‘arms on the Cross’ is like Moses whose arms were raised in prayer for his people. Today Christ asks us to join him in continual prayer and never to lose heart.
The first reading and the Gospel show us two examples of people who pray, one without tiring (Moses) and the other with determination, without getting discouraged (the widow). Both achieve their goals: salvation for the people of Israel (Moses) and justice (the widow). Only those who pray like them will always be open and ready to accept the Kingdom of God. The Lord will generally delay to reply, because his time is not our time, his ways are not our ways; his thoughts are not our thoughts. The one who prays will never lose hope and when the Lord comes to do justice, will be found vigilant in his watch.
In the second reading we hear Paul’s counsel to Timothy: “Study the Holy Scriptures!” Constant contact with the word of God is the best prayer.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
The first reading of today describes one of the first engagements between Israel and this tribe of desert nomads called the Amalekites. Moses orders his general, Joshua, to attack them. Joshua obeys and accepts the challenge. Meanwhile, as the battle rages, Moses raised his hands in prayer, holding the staff of God, the emblem of the ‘Lord’s protection’ since their delivery out from Egypt.
Eventually Moses reached the point of exhaustion where his associates had to hold his arms up for him to continue praying. “Whenever Moses held up his arms, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his arms, Amalek prevailed.” God answered that prayer with a spectacular victory over an overwhelming enemy.
The Amalekites could not stop Israel’s progress to the Promised Land. This effort of Moses exemplifies persistence in prayer. What teaching can we draw from this story? Should we ask God to give us the strength to kill our enemies? Certainly not! In ancient times people were much more violent and warlike and imagined also that the ‘gods’ whom the people worshipped fought for them. We know now, and it was Jesus who told us, that this way of imagining God is rather crude. But in spite of this story of today it has something important for us: it tells us that to achieve goals that are beyond our reach and force, we must pray – without getting tired. We must persevere.
Where do we get, for instance, the force to forgive one who has offended or harmed us or the force to resist the evil inclinations leading us to be overly ambitious, envious, greedy, and full of hatred and grudges? It is only from prayer. If we were to ‘let our arms down’ even for a moment, that would be like stopping praying, and we shall be overwhelmed by the forces of evil, we shall be defeated and terribly hurt.
We should do like Moses and keep our ‘arms raised’ till sunset, which means to ‘persevere’ until the end of our lives, without tiring. When we start to tire we pray that our brothers and sisters in faith will help to prop us up.
This Sunday’s Psalm is a song that may originally have been as a blessing given to pilgrims who were about to embark on a dangerous journey to return home from Jerusalem. The pilgrim is full of confidence that God, the unsleeping guardian of Israel, will protect him from all dangers on the way. As Christians we find our surest protection in Jesus, the Good Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.
2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2.
The second reading points to one of the great sources of strength for our prayer life. Paul’s advice to Timothy also centres not only on prayer but also in the study and meditation on the Scriptures and the proclamation of the Gospel they have learned through their faith in its ‘inspired word’. Paul tells Timothy, “Continue in what you have learned and firmly believe.” Then he adds these profound words: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, and equipped for every good work.” God’s word is indispensable to us. Without it, our prayer life would wither and die.
When one has discovered the treasure of the word of God, one cannot keep it to oneself; one must offer it also to one’s brothers and sisters. Paul beseeches us to take advantage of every possible occasion and chance to proclaim the message of the Gospel to all.
The Gospel of Luke is known for its insistence on prayer. In today’s Gospel reading this insistence comes out in the parable of the ‘Unjust Judge and the Persistent Widow’. The widow was seeking justice denied her by some antagonist, but the judge wasn’t about to give in to her. The judge is a law to himself. He fears neither God nor people and yet he is obliged to give in to this widow in order to avoid further bother. If such an uncaring character finally gives in to petitions, how much more will God respond, who cares about the fate of the poor who cry out to him. ‘God’, Jesus emphasizes, ‘will respond’ to the one who prays to him and ‘perseveres’.
In telling the parable, Jesus is not comparing God to the unjust judge and suggesting that he answers prayers only to avoid being bothered further. Rather, Jesus contrasts God with the judge arguing that if an unjust man can come to justice eventually, how much more will God answer his chosen ones whom he loves? God is always faithful in answering our prayers, although the answers may not be quite what we expect. What delays there may be form part of our training and is giving us more time to repent.
Jesus encourages us to be persistent in our prayer and never lose heart. The point is not that God is so difficult to persuade that his children will have to insist a lot in order to get what they need. The truth is that God is so much more loving and kind than human beings that we can trust him to do whatever is good and best for us. The fact that Jesus identifies God’s answer to persevering prayer with his passion for justice reminds the disciples and us that one should not pray for frivolous privilege and honours and material gains, but for the weighty matters of faith.
‘True prayer, the one that should never stop or be interrupted, consists in keeping up a constant dialogue with the Lord’. To pray always means never to take a decision without first speaking or consulting him, without first assessing with him every event of our life. If we stop or interrupt this kind of relationship with God, if, as we heard in the first reading, ‘we let down our arms’, we shall be immediately overwhelmed by adverse circumstances, and when the Lord comes to save us, we shall be found without faith and unprepared to receive him.
Intense and prolonged suffering can tempt us to deny God. The widow in today’s Gospel shows us that ‘persistent prayer’ is the means to keep steadfast in our trust in God and so experience his compassion, help and his goodness in our suffering. Maybe there are just some things that God can’t take care of right now. God has his reasons, and we can never know them all. But this we do know, and we have Jesus’ word for it: God loves us, God watches over us, and God cares. The real question is whether we, through the practice of on-going prayer, will be faithful to God?
At the very end of the Gospel reading, Jesus says, “And yet, when the ‘Son of Man’ comes, will he find faith on earth?” He will, provided we continue to be nourished by God’s Word. For that Word helps sustain us in a loving relationship with God and our neighbour. Moreover, it will continually remind us of the promise: that God will lead us to eternal life.
Persistence in prayer is not to be understood as trying to change God as if he is unwilling to help us. It is us who need to change … from ‘my will be done’ to ‘thy will be done.’
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following
29th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … The first reading clearly illustrates the power of God given to Moses through the power of prayer. As long as Moses keeps his arms raised, the Israelites do well, but when his arms fall, his army seems to follow suit. Moses stays with his prayer until the enemy is defeated
Mon. … We can now understand that through faith and constant dialogue with the Lord, that prayers of intercession will be answered.
Tues. … Our brothers and sisters in Christ are there to prop us up when we start to fall down and to help us carry our Crosses when the burden becomes too heavy. Sometimes God’s delay in answering our prayers is for the purpose of ‘deepening of our faith’. Our perseverance will lead us to victory in Jesus’ name.
Wed. … In the second reading, Paul points to one of the great sources of strength for our prayer life, the ‘Holy Scriptures and the Gospel’. “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be upright”.
Thurs. … In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus contrasts God with the ‘unjust judge’ saying that if an unjust man can come to justice eventually, how much more will our Father who loves us answer his chosen ones? God is always faithful in answering our prayers, although the answers may not always be quite what we might expect. God knows better than any of us what we really need for our faith’s journey.
Frid. … The parable of the ‘persistent widow’ is not about repeated prayer for any particular short-term thing, but ‘faithfulness to prayer’ itself. Intense and prolonged suffering can lead us to despair and tempt us to deny God. The widow in today’s reading shows us that persistent prayer is the means to keep steadfast in our trust in God and so to experience his loving compassion.
Sat. …That God will always be faithful in answering our prayers goes without saying. The real question for us today is whether we, through the practice of on-going prayer, will be faithful to God? God does not need our prayers; it is us who desperately need them. At the end of the Gospel reading, Jesus says, “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, help to us to recognize the true value of prayer for our spirituality. Help us to change from ‘our will be done’ to ‘Your will be done’. May we always put our complete faith and trust in You. We pray that You strengthen our faith through your Word and your Holy Eucharist. Lord we love You. Lord we need You for our salvation. Lord lead us in the Way.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.