Week of October 16, 2016

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Give yourself fully to God.  He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.  St. Teresa of Kolkata

In today’s Gospel we are told a parable by Jesus about the necessity to pray always without giving up.  In her reflection in Celebration Sr. Mary McGlone says “It’s important to recognize that those are two related ideas: to be constantly mindful of our relationship with God, and to persist in faith.”  Sr. Mary goes on:

Interpreting the parable in that light may open new dimensions to its teaching.  The widow in this story represents the praying disciple, while the judge presides over injustice.  For what is the widow to pray?  For whom does Jesus tell us to pray?  If we search the Gospel of Luke we won’t find Jesus saying, “Pray for one another,” but rather, “Pray for those who mistreat you” (Lk. 6:28).  The only time Jesus said he prayed for someone, he said it to Peter: “I have prayed that your own faith may not fail” (Lk. 22:32).  The implication seems to be that in a situation of seemingly interminable injustice, especially when we have no power to change it, we are called to pray for those who have the power as well as for the perpetrators.

This is a story of salvation, but not as it appears at first glance.  Sure, the widow finally got her due, but in the process she saved the judge.  She never gave up in her prayer or in the actions that flowed from it.  She kept at it, asking for divine help while also devising the tactics that had the best chance of success.  She made it easier for him to do right than wrong…

In spite of what everyone knew and said about the judge, she would not stop believing that God can transform hearts.  She refused to give in to the idea that he would never change.  Like Moses, who kept holding up his staff over the outnumbered Israelite army, she refused to give up.  There was no earthly reason to expect success, but if there had been, she would not have needed to pray as she did.

Jesus last remark in this reading pulls us up short: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8).

That’s the question addressed to each of us.  Do we really believe God’s kingdom is germinating among us now?  How far are we willing to go to cultivate it?  Are we faith-filled enough to pray for those who mistreat us and for those who promote justice?  Do we desire the kind of faith that leads us to persist, as 2 Timothy suggests, whether it is convenient or inconvenient?  Sr. Mary continues,

As we look around at our political situation, at the injustice and violence that plague our country and world, there is no earthly reason to believe that it can all change.  That’s precisely why our widow friend is held up to us as an example.  Weariness is no excuse.  Prayer has been found to be effective.  Prayer will awaken our memory of Jesus and remind us that the kingdom doesn’t operate on the rules of this world.  Only prayer will open us to the grace to overcome the inevitable disillusionments we meet in life.  Only prayer can open us to the inspirations that will keep us going, and going, and going…until justice reigns.

  • For the next six weeks there will be a reflection on our parish mission statement in our bulletin. Each week there will be examples of ways we live out our mission.
  • Next Sunday Fr. Richard Rocha, the president of St. Michael the Apostle High School that is being built in Lee’s Summit, will preside and preach at the 8:30 & 10:30 masses.
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