Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today’s readings teach us prayer and perseverance in prayer. Constancy in prayer and trust in God as we pray is very necessary. In the first reading, Moses, after sending Joshua to fight against Amalek, is presented as making tireless intercession with constancy for the victory of Israel’s army. Both Moses and the widow in today’s Gospel story teach us how we should pray with trusting Faith and perseverance. In the second reading, St. Paul instructs Timothy to persevere in his ministry, to proclaim the word of God with persistence in all circumstances and to use it to “correct, reprove and appeal with patience.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes the “necessity of praying always and not losing heart.” Constancy in prayer is Faith in action. Jesus presents the widow in today’s Gospel as a model of the trust and persistence with which his disciples are to pray. The widow was asking for something which God would certainly want for her – justice. I would like to tell you the story of an elderly lady who gets support from our food pantry. Her prayer is to get her food. But she won’t stop calling the office until the food is at her door. The phone will be ringing constantly. We say if we don’t help her out of charity, we help her to get peace. Her perseverance wins all the time. We need to combine our prayers with actions.
Jesus says to us in today’s Gospel to never lose heart. And never give up. We know this story. Years ago there was a young man in Illinois 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 which 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. It took Winston Churchill three years to get through the eighth grade, because he couldn’t pass English – of all things! Ironically, he was asked many years later to give the commencement address at Oxford University. His now famous speech consisted of only three words: “Never give up!” And that is the message of today’s Gospel parable of the poor widow and the corrupt judge.
Sometimes people ask, “How long do I have to pray? I have been praying for a long time but nothing is happening.” We should not expect to get whatever we pray for. This parable does not suggest that God writes a blank check, guaranteeing whatever we want whenever we want it in the form we ask for. But we conveniently forget the fact that, often, a loving father has to refuse the request of a child, because he knows that what the child asks would hurt rather than help him (e.g., a knife). God is like that. He knows what to give, when to give and how to give it. Only God sees time whole, and, therefore, only God knows what is good for us in the long run. That is why Jesus said that we must never be discouraged in prayer. Instead, we have to leave the answer to God’s decision saying, “Thy will be done.”
Something very important this parable teaches is that our prayers do not change God’s will. Instead, they bring our minds into line with His purposes. Persistent prayer — continuing communion with God — reshapes our hearts to God’s original design. Such prayer does not change God; instead, it changes us. Sincere and persistent prayer makes us ready to accept His will. Sincere and persistent prayer makes us ready to accept His will. So there are three things to keep in mind today as we pray; pray constantly, never give up, and we pray that we will be conformed with God’s Will.
God Bless You,