FR. GERALD MUOKA HOMILY FOR THE 29TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.
THEME: WEAPON OF THE VULNERABLE: PERSISTENCE IN PRAYERS.
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka.
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 16 2022.
R1 – Ex 17:8-13
R2 – 2Tim 3:14-4:2
GOSPEL – Luke 18:1-8
A story was told about a little boy who wanted more than anything to play in the school band. The boy went home from school one day and asked his parents if they would buy him an instrument and let him sign up to play in the band. Well the boy’s parents didn’t say yes and they didn’t say no. They said, “We will have to think about it. After all, a musical instrument cost a lot of money and we are not sure you will stick to it.”
A few days went by and the boy’s parents hadn’t said anything, so the boy decided he should ask again. The boy’s parents didn’t say yes and they didn’t say no. The said, “We are still thinking about it.” On his way home from school the next day, the boy decided to stop by the local music store to check out the musical instruments. When he walked in the store, the first thing that caught his eyes was a beautiful, shiny trumpet. It wasn’t new, but it was in very good condition.
That night at supper, the boy said to his parents, “I went by the music store today after school and they have a really nice used trumpet. It is exactly what I want and it only costs #50, 000.” The boy’s father turned to his wife and said, “I guess we had better go take a look at the trumpet or we are never going to hear the end of this.” The next day, the boy went to the music store with his parents to buy the trumpet. The boy finally joined the band, and he did stick to it. He later studied music in the University and became a music professor afterwards.
Beloved in Christ, imagine what could have been the turn out of events, especially in respect to the boy’s future, if he had asked his parents for the musical instrument only one time, and probably never mentioned it again, or out of annoyance shied away from his persistent request. The greatest weapon of this little boy is not force or coercion, rather, persistence and perseverance in asking.
Of course, many of us Christians only ask God for a favour and frown at Him when it is not granted at the first instance or the way we want it. We tend to relent and most probably, start seeking solution else where. We always want God to say yes.
However, the entire readings of this Sunday’s liturgy, challenge us on the need to commit to persistence and perseverance in our Christian life.
In the first reading, we see Moses at prayer during a turbulent time in the life of the Israelites. Right at the threshold of entering the Promised Land, the chosen people were confronted by a hostile force, the Amalekites. Moses sent Joshua to fight with the Amalek while he, accompanied by Aaron and Hur, stood on the top of the hill with the staff of God in his hand. As long as Moses kept his hands up, Israel was victorious. When he lowered his hands, Amalek was victorious. After a while, Moses was tired of keeping his hands up in the air. So Aaron and Hur put a stone under Moses so he could sit on it. Then they went on each of his sides, each one holding one of Moses’ hands up until the sunset. Finally, Joshua defeated Amalek and his people as Moses prayed to hold his hands high.
In the Second Reading, St Paul instructs his spiritual son, Timothy on the necessity of persevering and persistent faith in God. Paul urges Timothy to continue in what he had learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom he had learned it and how from his childhood he had known the sacred writings that are able to instruct for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus presents us with a pedagogical parable of a judge and a poor widow who is seeking justice, with the view of illustrating the importance of perseverance in prayer. So, the widow, becomes a model of trust and constancy in prayer, which we must all imitate as followers of Christ.
*PERSISTENCE: THE VULNERABLE WIDOW’S WEAPON.*
As already stated that the overriding theme noticeable in the readings of today is Persistence at Prayer, and most significantly, the prayer of Petition.
The Gospel instructs us to pray without getting weary of prayer. Here, we have the story of the unjust judge and a vulnerable widow. The judge is typically a powerful and influential person, whereas the widow is fragile, vulnerable, and helpless. Her persistence and constant pleading help her to receive the right judgment. But the widow in Jesus’ parable has one powerful weapon, a dogged persistence which allows the judge no peace. Her persistence is also a very public event, and the entire community witnesses the widow’s repeated encounters with the judge. By publicly badgering the judge every day, the woman is trying to shame this shameless person.
Finally, the unjust judge is forced to yield.
For some exegetes, the theme of “persistent prayer” needs to be understood not as “hassling or pressuring” God, but rather as a consequence of a strong Faith that believes God hears prayers and will indeed answer them in His own time. So the underlying theme is really our need to have Faith in all circumstances, good or adverse. One measure of the depth of our Faith is our constancy in prayer, because prayer is a battle of faith and the triumph of perseverance.
(1) *WE SHOULD NOT EXPECT GOD TO ANSWER PRAYERS OUR OWN WAY*
God answers our prayers in one of these three ways:
(i) God says “Yes,” and you receive what you ask for.
(ii) God says “No,” and you have to accept it and move on.
(iii) Or God says “Not Yet,” and you learn to be patient and wait.
So, we should not expect to get whatever we pray for. God is our father who knows what is good for us in all circumstances and who alone sees time whole, and, therefore, only God knows what is good for us in the long run. Remember His words, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not my ways, declares Yahweh” (Isaiah 55:8).
(2) *EVERY LEADER IN THE FAMILY, CHURCH AND STATE MUST BE A MAN OF THE SPIRIT*
Moses’ recognition of the power of prayer in the First Reading, proves him a man of the spirit. He recognized that, “It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).
At some points, we can experience limitations and failures with what the human powers can do, but being a man of the spirit saves us from some impending shame, especially against the assault of the enemy, since we fight not flesh and blood, but against unseen forces (Ephesians 6:12).
(3) *NEVER GIVE IN*
We must learn to be persistent in our undertakings in life, without giving in to failure. Life is not without ups and downs and sometimes, we feel like quitting. But we can learn to be dogged and resilient from the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy.
Finally, Years ago, there was a young man in the United States, with only six months of formal school education. His mother home-schooled him and taught him to have a dream and to keep trying to realize that dream, relying on the power of persistent prayer. First, he ran for an office in the legislature and was beaten. Next, he entered business but failed at that, too, and spent the next 17 years paying the debts of his worthless partner. He fell in love with a charming young lady and they became engaged, but she died. This loss led the young man to a short-term nervous breakdown. Next, he ran for Congress and was defeated. He then tried to obtain an appointment to the U.S. Land Office but didn’t succeed. With strong belief in the power of prayer, he ran for U. S. Vice-Presidency and lost. Two years later he was defeated again for the office of Senator. He ran for office once more and was elected the 16th President of the United States, thus realizing his dream by the power of persistent prayer. He was Abraham Lincoln.
Beloved, it’s necessary we imbibe the virtue of perseverance and persistence in our relationship with God and man.
MAY THE LORD GRANT US AN ENDURING HEART THAT CAN WITHSTAND ADVERSITIES WITHOUT RELENTING AT PRAYERS AND LOVE OF GOD.
_FR. GERALD MUOKA._