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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 21, 2007 Year: C
Ex. 17:8-13; 2 Tim. 3:14-4:2; Lk. 18:1-8
Living in Faith
"Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. Moses
said to Joshua, 'Choose some men for us and go out with
Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill
with the staff of God in my hand.'
Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek,
while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the
Whenever Moses held up his hands, Israel prevailed; and
whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek prevailed. But
Moses' hands grew weary so they took a stone and put it
under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his
hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side;
so his hands were stead until the sun set.
And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the
sword." [Ex. 17:8-13]
"Continue in what you have learned and firmly believed,
knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood
you have known the sacred writings that are able to
instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ
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, equipped for every good work.
the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge
the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing
and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the
message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or
unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the
utmost patience in teaching." [2 Tim. 3:14-4:2]
"Jesus told the disciples a parable about their need to
pray always and not to lose heart.
said, 'In a certain city there was a judge who neither
feared God nor had respect for people. In that city
there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying,
'Grant me justice against my opponent.'
For a while the judge refused; but later he said to
himself, 'Though I have no fear of God and no respect
for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I
will grant her justice, sot that she may not wear me out
by continually coming.'
And the Lord said, 'Listen to what the unjust judge
says. Will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who
cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping
them? I tell you, God will quickly grant justice to
them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find
faith on earth?" [Lk. 18:1-8]
“Come in,” God said to me. “So, you would
like to interview Me?”
”If you have the time,” I said.
God smiled and said: “My time is called
eternity and is enough to do everything.
What questions do you have in mind to ask
”None that are new to you. What’s the one
thing that surprises you most about
”That they get bored being children, are in
a rush to grow up, and then long to be
children again. That they lose their health
to make money and then-lose their money to
restore their health. That by thinking
anxiously about the future, they forget the
present, such that they live neither for the
present nor the future. That they live as if
they will never die, and they die as if they
had never lived...”
God’s hands took mine and we were silent.
After a long period, I said, “May I ask you
another question? As a parent, what would
you ask your children to do?”
God replied with a smile:
”To learn that they cannot make anyone love
them. To learn that it takes years to build
trust, and a few seconds to destroy it.
To learn that what is most valuable is not
what they have in their lives, but who they
have in their lives.
To learn that it is not good to compare
themselves to others. There will be others
better or worse than they are.
To learn that a rich person is not one who
has the most, but is one who needs the
To learn that they should control their
attitudes, otherwise their attitudes will
To learn that it only takes a few seconds to
open profound wounds in persons we love, and
that it takes many years to heal them.
To learn to forgive by practicing
To learn that there are persons that love
them dearly, but simply do not know how to
show their feelings.
To learn that money can buy everything but
To learn that while at times they may be
entitled to be upset, that does not give
them the right to upset those around them.
To learn that great dreams do not require
great wings, but landing gear to achieve.
To learn that true friends are scarce.
To learn that it is not always enough that
they be forgiven by others but that they
To learn that they are masters of what they
keep to themselves and slaves of what they
To learn that they shall reap what they
plant; if they plant gossip they will
harvest intrigues, if they plant love they
will harvest happiness.
To learn that true happiness is not to
achieve their goals but to learn to be
satisfied with what they already achieved.
To learn that happiness is a decision. They
decide to be happy with what they are and
have, or die from envy and jealousy of what
To learn that two people can look at the
same thing and see something totally
To learn that those who are honest with
themselves, without considering the
consequences, go far in life.
To learn that even though they may think
they have nothing to give, when a friend
cries with them, they find the strength to
appease the pain.
To learn that by trying to hold on to loved
ones, they very quickly push them away; and
by letting go of those they love, they will
be side by side forever.
To learn that even though the word “love”
has many different meanings, it loses value
when it is overstated.
To learn that they can never do something
extraordinary for Me to love them; I simply
To learn that the shortest
distance they could be from Me is the
distance of a
The wider context of the story about the widow and the
judge is formed by Jesus' earlier statements about the
coming of the new age. This coming is two-staged. The
first stage is present in His word and work (Lk.17:21).
The second stage will be fulfilled when the human One
(i.e. the son of Man) comes in glory (Lk.17:26ff). Luke
compares this later coming with the flood and then with
the ruin of Sodom it will be a time of destruction! A
catastrophic time but not for everyone! Jesus also
speaks about God vindicating the "elect" who cry out in
their plight (vv.1-5).
Then comes the story of the widow, who is not praying in
the sense of seeking justice through prayer. She is
concerned about justice through action. On one level
Jesus offers an image of God as hard-hearted judge - a
spiritually bankrupt authoritarian figure to be worn
down by human badgering! The early church used this
story for its own purpose. Perhaps the Lukan community,
feeling the need for more emphasis on prayer, began to
use the parable to suggest persistence in prayer,
although no prayer is involved in the original story.
Interpreting the theme as persistence in prayer comes
out of an inclination to see widows in negative terms.
Widows were seen as bothersome and drains on the
community resources (1 Tim.5)
The original level of Jesus' telling the story of the
persistent widow focuses on knowing one's rights and
acting to get them. With an active faith in God a person
will get justice. Use your voice and ingenuity – and
don't give up! It is a pattern for courage and assertive
action for today. Women can argue and act for justice.
It is example where to be right is not enough. The widow
knew that frequently, in order to get what she wants, a
person had to stick up for his or her rights and
continue until they get satisfaction.
The Greek word for "bother" used in the story means,
"lest she come and beat me." The woman threatened to
give the judge a black eye! Maybe the violence is in her
attitude. She may have got angry with the judge and
challenged him on the justice of the case. Another
motive for the judge to act is out of fear of the
woman's moral strength. The authority role was reversed.
In terms of justice the 'woman' tells the mere 'boy'
what is morally right and the judge felt forced to
acknowledge her rightness (vv.6-8).
Earlier the disciples had asked for an increase in faith
(Lk.17:5). Faith was an attitude of unconditional
acceptance of responsibility, without a feeling of
merit. It seems that God will vindicate those who have
suffered for their faith and do it speedily! But when
the human One comes, will He find this quality of faith?
What seems to be implied is that God is merciful indeed,
despite the fact that faith nearly runs out before the
human One returns. In the story of the ten men suffering
from skin-disease who went to the priests to show the
signs of the disease were gone, the priest would have
recognised in the absence of signs of disease, the
presence of the new era!
Those who wished to be rid of Jesus could say: "We see
no such signs. Where are they? When the new era comes,
there will be external signs according to the prophet
Joel. Where are they?" Jesus replies that the new era is
here already and the signs are there for those willing
to see them! The evidence is not over-whelming. Goodwill
is needed. Those who decide to believe in Jesus (the
first stage of the establishing the new era) were
regarded by their fellow Hebrews as having been lured
away from fidelity to YHWH. In the original story, Jesus
assures those who believe in Him--by persisting in
seeking justice – will be vindicated by God. In this
vindication, through an active faith, the human One is
The word "coming" that Luke uses, is the Greek word "parousia."
It meant a triumphal arrival of an emperor. It was a
political term. Jesus seems to be saying that there will
be a lot of suffering in history before the
establishment of the new era. These terrors,
persecutions and contradictions are inevitable! But
don't be alarmed. Today it is strongly felt that the
world is going to be destroyed. But in Jesus' terms, its
the end of the world of exploitation. It is really going
to be a new beginning--a new heaven and a new earth!!
And women are called to be the bearers of courage to
confront the structured evils of patriarchy. They have
an important role by joining those who criticize the
system. Their voices nudge the collective conscience of
Jesus announces "good news" for the oppressed, but
assertive, widow. He announces 'bad news' to the
powerful, rich judge. The feminine earth is to be set
free from the structured evil of patriarchy. She will be
liberated! The story shows Jesus affirming the feminine
persistence in search of rights. It is more than a story
about perseverance in prayer. The Christian community
has tended to interpret the story that way. One of the
reasons, we suspect, is because the church has shared a
negative attitude towards "bothersome women!"
particularly Lucan material in the travel narrative
concludes with two parables on prayer. The first
(Lk.18:1-8) teaches the disciples the need of persistent
prayer so that they not fall victims to apostasy (v.8).
The second (Lk.18:9-14) condemns the self-righteous,
critical attitude of the Pharisee and teaches that the
fundamental attitude of the Christian disciple must be
the recognition of sinfulness and complete dependence on
God's graciousness. The second parable recalls the story
of the pardoning of the sinful woman (Lk.7:36-50) where
a similar contrast is presented between the critical
attitude of the Pharisee Simon and the love shown by the
[v.5] Wear me out:
Greek verb translated
'wear me out'
means "to strike under the eye" and suggests the extreme
situation to which the persistence of the widow might
lead. It is used here in the much weaker sense of being
Pray always and do not lose heart:
can pray unceasingly? What does this mean? Even Mrs.
Agnes who enters the church at 5.30 am every morning and
seems to leave at 7.00 pm every evening still takes an
hour off for lunch. Is this an unreasonable request from
Jesus to pray always and unceasingly? What do Jesus and
St. Paul mean by these words? Is this an idealistic
challenge to keep us always reaching for an unreachable
goal and thus setting us up for failure? Or is this
praying unceasingly means endlessly reciting prayers on
our knees, we are in big trouble. However, if praying
unceasingly means living and breathing and walking and
interacting and laughing and loving in a constant spirit
of prayer then this is achievable. Further, I believe
this is the essence of the words that Jesus and St. Paul
is a skill that requires time to develop and one must be
patient with oneself in developing this skill. An image
that comes to mind in order to pray unceasingly is the
discipline of wearing special eye glasses each and every
day. When one looks at the world while wearing these
special glasses one sees God operating everywhere, in
everything, and in every person. While recognizing all
these things in the course of the day In addition to
public and private prayer and worship, one prays
Again, this skill is not developed
overnight, but over a lifetime. However, the more often
one feels the warmth and love of God shining on his face
in the noontime sunshine and the more often one
perceives the goodness of God in a small kind gesture of
another person and the more often one hears the
consoling voice of God in a few words of concern by a
co-worker at the water cooler and the more often one
feels the loving embrace of God from the arms of a child
and the more often one feels gratitude to our God while
appreciating the awesome beauty of nature and the more
often one hears and sees the majesty of God in beautiful
music and breathtaking artwork one begins to develop
this skill of praying unceasingly.
will be mornings when we forget to put our special
glasses on. There will be days when we step on our
glasses and crush them however, the challenge is to
repair them or to find them and to put them back on and
to not get discouraged by our failures.
end of the gospel asks the question: Will Jesus find
faith on earth? Perhaps at the end of time Jesus will
most easily recognize the faithful by who is wearing
these special glasses and perhaps we will most easily
recognize Jesus by wearing these special glasses.
In the world today being examined for new
glasses, having glasses made, and paying for these new
glasses can be time consuming and costly, however, in
our prayer lives these special glasses are obtained
through an act of the will, with perseverance, and
especially by being patient. This is what it means to
pray unceasingly and this is how we will be sure that
Jesus will find faith on earth when He returns.
New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a
serious exegetical study on the important words and
texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The
study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic
and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to
EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph
Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East,
Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can
be ordered through email:
The cost of the book is Rs.
125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE
DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on
St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza,
OCD, MA. PhD.
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