Persistence In Prayer is the Mark of the Christian

Twenty-nineth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Fr. Jim homily

4 minute read


Ex. 17:8-13; Ps. 121; 2 Tm. 3:14-4:2; Lk. 18:1-8

(Audio recorded live, 16 October 2022)

Today’s readings are about persistence and perseverance in prayer. Sometimes prayer is a battle. We get that impression from the Book of Exodus as Moses prays for the Israelites who are battling Amalek. Sometimes prayer is trust. We get that impression from the psalmist who says, our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Sometimes prayer is proclamation of the Word. We get that impression from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, who tells him to proclaim the word. And lastly, prayer is never giving up. We get that impression from the Gospel, as the widow keeps bothering the judge asking him for a just decision for her. And so, prayer can be a battle, trust in the Lord, proclamation of the Word, and persistent.

One theme is common throughout the readings today, and that is persistence. While the example Jesus gives is of an unjust judge, God, on the other hand, is entirely just. That is why Jesus says, “Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?” We are the chosen ones. By nature of our baptism, we have been made sons and daughters of the Father. And one of the hallmarks of the children of God is their persistence in prayer. Jesus says the chosen ones call out to God day and night. And so, we do well to take to heart the words we hear today.

How is our prayer life? Are we praying day and night as Jesus indicates? Or are we spending more time on other things? Do we appreciate the life God gave us? And by life, I do not mean the struggles, the stress, the pains; by life, I mean our very existence—the fact that we have a shot at being here to begin with. It has been said, life is what we make of it. We have to take the good with the bad. If we are experiencing a particular rough patch, perhaps we can learn something from the battle between Israel and Amalek. When Moses rested his hands, that is, when he stopped praying, the Israelites started losing the battle. Are we losing battles in our life? Could it be we let our hands down? Have we stopped praying?

What about our trust in the Lord? Do we trust that God has a plan for our life? Do we trust that God will lead us not into temptation? Do we trust that God’s will is greater than our own? Faith is closely tied to trust. And Jesus asks, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Will he find us trusting in his plan for our life? There is a saying, “If God brings you to it, he will get you through it.” The LORD will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever.

And what of our persistence? Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, we are encouraged to hold fast to the Word of God. And while we may not all be ordained ministers, we are still called to proclaim the Gospel. We do this by reading it, absorbing the teaching of Jesus, letting it transform us, how we think, how we act, how we live. We persist in this, no matter what, because it is what makes us who we are as children of God. To do anything other is to be a child of Satan, to oppose God, to do our own will. We are encouraged to keep the Gospel in our heart and to share it with others. This is a kind of prayer. It begins with meditation and continues through action.

Jesus loves us more than we know, and the way we remain connected to him is through prayer. So, again I ask, how is our prayer life? Do we pray morning and night as Jesus describes? Do we have a devotion to the Holy Rosary? This is the month of the Holy Rosary? How often have we prayed our Rosary? What about morning and evening prayers? What about a daily meditation on Sacred Scripture? What about examining our conscience before bed every night, asking God to reveal our shortcomings so we can do better the next day? We don’t have to do it all, but can we do one well?

And so, as we reflect upon our prayer life and how persistent we ought to be, let us also focus on Christ in the Eucharist. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is our greatest prayer. So, may the communion we receive today help us to persist in living the sacramental life, and may the Lord give us the grace to remain in him as he remains in us, who cry out to him day and night.

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