HOMILY FOR THE 29TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.
THEME: VICTORY THROUGH PRAYER.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul.
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 16 2022.
“…Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.”
Have you become discouraged and stopped praying about the problem? If so, you need these words: ‘Keep on praying until victory is won.’ Both the First and Gospel readings ( Exodus 17:5-13, Luke 18:1-8) describe what persistent prayer can do for us in a challenging situation.
While the people of Israel were at Rephidim, the Amalekites came out to fight them. The Amalekites were the posterity of Esau, who hated Jacob because of the birthright and blessing Jacob took from Esau. We don’t just inherit heroic tales of our fathers, evil stories which poison unborn generations are passed on. So this was an inherited enmity; a malice that ran in the blood. The Amalekites felt threatened by their presence and Rephidim which means “a place of rest” became a place of war. The confrontation of the Amalekites symbolises anything that obstructs the peace and rest that God desires for us.
The children of Israel went to battle against a vastly superior army of Amalekites, so Moses selected the Mountain of Prayer over the Valley of Battle and the Israelites. When God calls us to do a job, He calls others to stand alongside us. So we need to be asking Him who belongs in our lives. God has called us for various services for the good of His Church and humanity. Joshua fought, Moses prayed, and both ministered to the people. Moses was not only a standard-bearer, but an intercessor, pleading with God for success and victory. And without a Moses in a group, the people perish in the battle waged by those who don’t want them to rest. When the host goes forth against the enemy earnest prayers should be made to the God of hosts for His presence with them. The presence of a Moses is necessary for the victory of every family or group. Joshua succeeded because Moses prayed. No family should lack a Moses.
Moses held his hands up, Israel’s armies prevailed in battle, but when his hands grew tired the battle went the other way. So Aaron and Hur stood by Moses and held up his hands until victory over the Amalekites was complete. We need people who know how to hold up our hands, strengthen us, and encourage us. This is important because even the strongest arm can fail when being long extended; it is God only whose hand is stretched out still without weakness.
Remarkably in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’s teaching on prayer follows directly on His teaching on the coming of the Son of Man. So we should think of disciples who may be undergoing a struggle just prior to the coming of the Son of Man not to give up hope, but to pray, expecting a speedy answer.
To illustrate His point, Jesus told a story of unjust judge and a widow. The judge was not a a man-pleaser. Neither did he respect the special needs of the poor and oppressed. He was independent or thought he was. He was not overly concerned about public opinion. He was concerned with himself; his own opinions, his own comfort, his own income. The judge was arrogant, self-absorbed, and unjust, a powerful man facing down one of the weakest members of society; a widow.
Widows had a difficult place in Palestine; around the world, in fact. Normally, the wife of a deceased husband had no legal right to inherit her husband’s estate, so when her husband died, she couldn’t take for granted living in his house on his land. If her deceased husband had no children, the estate reverted to her husband’s male relatives on his father’s side; his brothers, his father’s brothers, and then the nearest family kinsman. If she had grown children, things would be easier; they would take care of Mom. But a widow with small children might just as well have to contend for property rights with her in-laws, and if they didn’t happen to like her, things could be difficult. In some cases, she might manage the estate to be inherited by her young children as a trustee, but that was by no means a sure thing.
The widow persistently demanded justice from the judge.This weak little widow started making the powerful judge feel some heat. This widow’s constant appeals were hurting the judge’s reputation. He decided to grant her what she was due just to get rid of her.
Now, for the unjust judge and the widow, Jesus substitutes God and his elect. God is never unjust! No, and that is not the point. Jesus’ argument is from the lesser to the greater: If an unjust, selfish judge will see that justice is done in response to persistent requests, how much more will the just God bring justice to his own beloved people who pray constantly for relief.
Sometimes we cry, “How long, Lord?” Sometimes it seems that God will never answer. Jesus has told a parable of persistence, of a widow; weak in the world’s estimation who has won a victory because she didn’t give up hope, she doesn’t give up her plea, and finally wins the day. But what about you and me? We sometimes become so worn down and discouraged by our lives that we stop praying, stop hoping, stop expecting God to intervene. Will we be religious, church-going unbelievers, who have given up expecting an answer, whose prayers are just going through the motions? Jesus wonders. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (18:8). Jesus told this story to us disciples so that we might be encouraged. None of you is weaker than the widow. None of you is facing longer odds than she. But because of her persistence and faith, even the unjust judge gave her what was hers by right. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God have mercy on us, heal our world and land, bless and protect us all through Christ Our Lord Amen. Happy Celebration.