2 Timothy 3: 14--4:2
Luke 18: 1-8
Every once and a while, the Scripture readings the Church chooses for a particular Sunday may seem a little odd to some of us. The first reading sounds like a scene from the movie series “Lord of the Rings.” Or the cable show, “Game of Thrones.” The Gospel reading has a parable that could have come from an episode of “Judge Judy!” Yet, if we look closer, we will see the deeper meaning that is in both readings. In the first reading, taken from the Book of Exodus, we see recorded the first battle the Hebrew people fought in, since their escape from Egypt. They are facing a people hardened by the desert and combat. Moses is not even committing all of his forces, but is having Joshua go out only with a group of “certain men.” The only reason the Hebrews are able to succeed; is because of Moses’ constant intercession, constant prayer to Yahweh, to the Lord. Moses at times weakens in his prayer, and the community suffers. The community in turn, helps Moses, supports Moses in his prayer, through the persons of Aaron and Hur. And the community is victorious.
In today’s Gospel, to illustrate the need to “pray always without becoming weary,” Jesus tells a parable of a widow pressing a judge, known for his dishonesty, to give her a “just decision.” Scripture scholars speculate that her adversary must be a wealthy person; and since she is poor, her only leverage is to harass the judge constantly, until he gives her the decision she wants. Now we could interpret this reading as showing that if we constantly keep asking God to give us something, we will get it. However, I would take the position that what we would call intercessory prayer is more than constantly saying to the Father: “Gimmee, Gimmee, Gimmee!” Intercessory prayer is us acknowledging how dependent we are on the Father; it is us acknowledging that all good things we receive, including the talents we have, the people who love us; all good things have their source in God.
And prayer is more than just always asking God for something. Prayer is the way we maintain our personal relationship with God. And God wants that personal relationship with each one of us. Among the most moving Scripture passages for me, is in a later chapter of Exodus, Chapter 33, in which God calls Moses, “his intimate friend.” How awesome is that? But what relationship can be maintained if the communication is only one way; or when we speak to one another, shall we say, once a week? How many of us have seen or have experienced a family at table, each person working their own smartphone? And, sadly, they maybe texting other people! Saint Paul has written that we must pray always, but I think he not just speaking about vocal prayers; but that we keep ourselves always open to that encounter with God, that can occur at any time. When we gather here each Sunday; when we focus on what is happening here, when we experience the Presence of the Lord in our midst, and in our hearts; it is an experience we should carry with us when we leave here. Let us be persistent in prayer, whether, as St. Paul wrote, “it is convenient or inconvenient.” Let us greet the morning with a prayer of praise, and the end of the day with a prayer of thanksgiving. Let us take a moment to read and reflect on Scripture. Or just take a moment to sit, be silent, and be in God’s Presence.
A Benedictine monk once said “Until you are convinced that prayer is the best use of your time, you will never find time to pray.” Let us strive to be persistent in prayer, persistent in living the Good News of Jesus Christ, so that when He does come, He will find faith on earth.