Twenty-ninth Sunday, Year C
Pray continually and never lose heart
The importance of prayer is underscored in today’s readings. Poor old Moses, as long as he keeps praying everything goes well. This image of Moses with arms outstretched, entreating God in the midst of battle, anticipates Jesus on the Cross. And Jesus, entreating God on the Cross, as he was dying, is the most radical example of perseverance in prayer.
In the Gospel story, Jesus links this perseverance to our faith. Yes, there can be injustice in our life as life is not always fair – the widow is the example Jesus uses – but don’t let unjust circumstances be a cause for losing faith. Persevere, and God will take care of you swiftly – now, or in a little while, in the life to come.
Again, this parable is about the importance of persevering prayer whilst maintaining our trust in God. Don’t give up hope. In the example of Moses that we heard, or that of Our Lord on the Cross, we understand that prayer is a battleground. So, as it was for Moses, Our Lord and even the widow in the parable, our prayers will be answered when we persist and battle on.
Not one prayer is unanswered. But sometimes, we don’t always know what is best for us so we are often unaware of the way God answers us. So it is perseverance in prayer that often helps us crystalize what it is that is best for us. Prayer is a battleground. We have to push through the barrier of our own selfish desires to discover what it is that God wants for us, and that which is truly good for us. And at the same time we discover more about ourselves, we come to discover and know God more intimately as well.
Today’s parable is the second in Luke where Jesus teaches his disciples about the necessity of prayer. In his Gospel we see Jesus in prayer more often than in any other. Why? Luke is teaching us that prayer was central in the life of Jesus and ought to be central in our lives too.
The following instances of Jesus in prayer are only in Luke. Jesus was praying after his baptism when the heavens opened (Luke 3:21). After the cure of the leper Jesus withdrew to the wilderness and prayed (Luke 5:16). Jesus spent all night on the hills in prayer before he chose the Twelve (Luke 6:12-16). Jesus was praying alone when he asked the disciples “Who do the people say I am?” (Luke 9:18-22). Eight days later he took Peter, James and John and went up on the mountain to pray (Luke 9:28) and while praying he was transfigured (Luke 9:29). Jesus was praying when his disciples asked him to teach them to pray so he taught them the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4).
Luke presents us with these stories for a reason. Luke wants us, like Jesus, to have a deeply personal relationship with God. This is possible only by prayer. Let us take to heart todays message of the importance of prayer in our lives and perhaps commit ourselves to spending more time doing it!