Twenty-ninth Sunday – Year C – Ordinary Time

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Twenty-ninth Sunday – Year C – Ordinary Time

 

Readings: Exo 17:8-13; 2 Tim 3:14-4:2; Lk 18:1-8.

1/ Reading I: RSV Exodus 17:8 Then came Amalek and fought with Israel at Rephidim. 9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out, fight with Amalek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

2/ Reading II: RSV 2 Timothy 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.

3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; 3 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”



I. THEME: Persevering in prayer until attaining the desired result 

            Many of us don’t correctly understand the value of prayer. Some say why don’t we use our human effort to attain what we want instead of relying on God’s help? To rely on God is weak and making God as the miraculous machine under the human control. These people forget that “planning belongs to human beings but achieving belongs to God.” If God doesn’t help, human effort is useless.

            The readings in two consecutive weeks emphasize that the faithful must be persevering in their faith until they reach their wish; last week’s readings are on faith and this week’s are on prayer. In the first reading, Moses was praying while Joshua took his soldiers to fight with the Amalekites. The Israelites are winning when Moses raised his hands in prayer; while the opposite happened when Moses put his hands down. In the second reading, Paul advised Timothy to be faithful in studying and preaching the gospel, whether it is convenient or inconvenient. The Gospel is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete and equipped for every good work. In the Gospel, a widow persevered in her intention by coming to the Gentile judge daily to ask him to judge fairly for her case until she has the victory.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.”

           

1.1/ Why must Moses pray?

            Some believe that victory in battlefield is due to the commander’s skill and the military power; not on human prayer and God’s help. Of course, winning by military power and the commander’s skill is normal; but winning with a small amount of soldiers and simple weapons is simply by God’s assisting power. The Jewish history is full of victories by God’s help and human prayer. For examples, the Exodus and the Israelites’ victory over Pharaoh’s mighty chariots and charioteers; the triumphant victory of the prophet Elijah over four hundred and fifty Baal’s prophets on Mount Carmel; the miraculous decree in which Cyrus, the Gentile Persian king, released the Israelites to return to their country and helped them to have the financial mean to rebuild the Jerusalem temple, etc.

            Moses prayed to God because he believed that only God could help the Israelites to be victorious on the way to the Promise Land. Moses only had a small amount of soldiers with simple weapons; but having a firm faith in God. He strongly believed that God shall hear his prayer.

1.2/ Why did Moses have to pray continually?

            God has power to grant people’s prayer quickly; why did He want Moses to pray continually to the point that Aaron and Hur must help him by holding his hands straight up toward heaven, one on the right and other on the left? There are two reasons:

            (1) God wanted them to know that the victory over the Amalekites is completely by God. It isn’t that He wanted their admiral; but to show them that if they firmly believe in Him and obediently do what He commands, He shall help them to be successful.

            (2) God wants human co-operation in bringing out the result: He doesn’t want people to turn Him to the miraculous machine—whatever they want, they only need to pray; but He wants people to try their best and patiently wait for the result so that they might understand the value of what they pray for. If they attain the result easily and quickly, they might not understand God’s love and the value of the gift. In addition, they are easy to insult God and trash the gifts He bestows on them.

2/ Reading II: “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

2.1/ Pray and act through the scripture.

            Many people are wrong when they identify to pray with to ask for a favor. To understand properly, to pray is to converse with God; to ask for a favor is only a small part in prayer. In the conversation, there needs to be two dimensions When God says, people listen; and when people talk, God listens. To pray with scripture is the most proper way because in scripture, God talks and teaches people. After understanding what God wants to say, people decide to apply God’s teaching in their daily life with His assistance. Praying with scripture also helps people to ask for what pleases God and useful for others; not only for themselves.

            Paul understood the value of the scripture, so he advised his disciple Timothy as follows: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

2.2/ “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season.”

            People have a tendency that they only learn when it is convenient; pray when they need a favor and only practice their religion when they were blessed with all things. They forget that all things have their time and order. In order to be an expert in a specialzed field, for examples, a doctor, a dentist or a teacher, one needs to spend about twenty-years of their life, with countless of effort, sacrifice and suffering to acquire enough knowledge before they can work in that area. To live a happy life in this world and to inherit the eternal life in heaven are much more important tasks, but many people don’t want to spend time to learn scripture, they satisfy with the Sunday Mass and homilies!

            When we look back at Jesus’ life and the leaders in the Old and the New Testament, we recognize that many of them spent almost all their life for learning, praying and preaching the gospels. Jesus spent thirty years to learn and only three years to preach continually. The apostles imitated Jesus; they followed him to learn and after his death, they spent all their life to preach and to witness for the gospel by their death.

            After recognized Christ’s love, Paul spent his whole life to preach the Gospel, on the synagogue; on the beach when there is no synagogue; with the officers as well as people; where he is free and where he is in prison. He actually became all things for all people.

            Understanding the importance of the gospel, St. Paul handed on these sincere words to his disciple Timothy, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.”

 

3/ Gospel: “Will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?”

3.1/ The Gentile judge and the annoyed widow: The reason why Jesus told this parable to his disciples is clearly pointed out by Luke—to teach them to always pray, not discouraged.

            (1) The Gentile judge: He didn’t worship God and regard of anyone, not a poor widow. For a long time, he didn’t listen to the widow’s begging; but at the end, he thought, “Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.”

            (2) The widow: She is poor and single, there is no one to rely on; therefore, she became a prey for people who are looking to harm her. She came to the judge many times and asked him to give her justice, “Vindicate me against my adversary.”

            Though the judge denied her request many times; but she didn’t lose heart, she steadfastly determined to continue to ask until she might get what she wants. There are two important points which we need to pay attention to: First, this widow was unjustly treated and she asked to be fairly trusted, she didn’t ask to be trusted favorably. The judge himself also said that he shall justly judge (ekdikein) for her. Secondly, the widow must work hard by coming and asking the judge many times, not only to sit in her house and to wait for the result.

  

3.2/ God loves His children.

            Jesus compared that Gentile judge with His Father, and he guaranteed His Father has more justice than the Gentile judge, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.” Two main points that Jesus wants to teach us through this parable:

            (1) God is the just judge: He shall never let His children to be treated unjustly. He shall rightly punish those who do such things; but He wants His children to patiently wait to practice their faith. Believing in God and Christ is the priceless gift, which God bestows on people; but to protect faith and to make it grow daily are the human duties. In order for faith to grow, suffering and trial can’t be lacked. Jesus himself recognized the human insult of faith when he asked his audience, “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

            (2) He gives the wicked a chance to repent: People want to destroy their enemy right away. They forget that the wicked are also God’s children. God doesn’t want the wicked to be destroyed, but wants them to repent and to live. If God is patient with us while we are still sinners, we must also be patient and give others a chance to repent.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            – God is the One who controls everything of our life; we can’t be successful without God’s help. Therefore, learning scripture and praying to find God’s will to do are the two things which can’t be lacked in our life.

            – To have God’s gift, we need to ask; especially make an effort to express what we want, and persevere in suffering for that thing to come, not only sit and wait.

            – We need to learn scripture before we could apply God’s word in our life to teach, to reproach, to reproof and to become righteous. Preaching the gospel is our duty to do in all situations whether it is convenient or not.

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