St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time 22C

Many ancient cultures believed their god or gods were engaged in their battles against their foes. The Jewish people believed that also as is documented many times in the Jewish Scriptures and as the scene in today’s 1st reading relates. As long as Moses with God’s staff in hand kept his arms raised invoking Yahweh, Joshua and his army had the better of the fight; but when Moses got tired (remember he was over 80 years old) and lowered his arms, Amalek did. With a little help from his friends, Moses was able to persist until Joshua slaughtered the enemy. Is God really that bloodthirsty? Does God really pick sides? I don’t believe so to both, but we see examples of that even today. In sports, a batter or a foul shooter makes the sign of the cross. Meanwhile, opposing fans have their hands folded in prayer. God, it seems, has a problem; both the player and the fans can’t get their religious actions answered their way. 

Anywise, let us look at the Gospel parable. There is a stark contrast between the worldly-wise, unscrupulous judge and the widow who demands justice. While the widow persists in her plea for justice, the judge (who perhaps expects a bribe) finally gives in because he is worried that she will attack him, maybe clawing at his face with her nails. The judge is unfavorably compared to God who will “secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night”. But a warning: it’s not any type of prayer that will be effective. Our prayer must be for justice, the good that God sees in our situation rather than something that answers our wants and may not even be in our best interests. This type of prayer requires trust as well, trust that God knows what we need, even if we can’t understand or agree with God’s answer. Jesus in his prayer to the Father during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane gives us an example. He first begs the Father to spare him from what was to come, but then says, “still, not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42).

Both in the Exodus reading and the parable, what Moses and the widow wanted to have happened did indeed happen. But, what about our prayers which seem to go unanswered? Are we praying wrong despite our novenas, our rosaries and other types of prayer? For example, in our General Intercessions at weekend Masses we as a community have been praying for weeks now that war and conflict be ended especially in the Ukraine. And, still it continues there and other places as well. But, maybe, just maybe, our prayer for peace is only for the absence of war and conflict. And that is a good thing. But maybe, maybe God will give us another gift: the peace that the world cannot give, an inner, lasting peace that we can radiate to others.

Paul in his Letter to Timothy gives him a final charge: “proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient” (2Tim 4:2). I charge you and myself: be persistent in living the Gospel. Pray always, whether it convenient or inconvenient; whether our prayers are answered the way we want or in God’s wisdom answered another way. And finally, “remain faithful to what you have learned and believed” (2Tim 3:14). Amen!

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