29th Sunday – 16th October 2022
Today once again Jesus makes use of a parable to get his message across, the parable we have just heard in the Gospel, which is about an unjust judge. He had “neither fear of God nor respect for the people”. It seems that in those days some of the judges looked for bribes before they would give a favourable judgment to a defendant. The defendant in this story was a widow. Again in Christ’s time widows were normally poor people, so she had no bribe to soften the judge. But she was an intelligent woman and she used another weapon – she pestered him – drove him bananas, so he finally gave her her just rights!
Jesus uses this story, not exactly to pester God, but something very like it: “to cry to him day and night, even when he delays to help”. Jesus himself was to experience that delay of the Father in an immense way, in the Garden of Gethsemane: “My Father if it is possible let this cup pass me by”. Still he added: “Nevertheless, let it be as you not I, would have it”. The Father did not let the cup pass – but let his Son suffer the most atrocious passion and death, solely that three days later he rose triumphant from the tomb, bringing redemption to humankind.
On an infinite minimally smaller scale, we will experience God not answering our prayer straight away. Perhaps he has a much greater plan for us, and wants to save us from a bad blunder in our lives. Or perhaps it is just to teach us a little patience, a little humility.
Then there is another aspect of prayer. Do we ever think about this? Prayer of thanks! This is another form of prayer that we should persevere in. Look at all the good things we have, we are surrounded with – our families, our friends, our neighbours, our homes, our monasteries. Do we thank him for peace in our land – look at Ukraine, for food, look at the third world! Do you like to be thanked for some kind, thoughtful act you did for someone else? Yes of course you do. So does God! So let’s make a decision that we will keep on thanking him – all our days.
There is still another aspect of prayer – probably the most precious of all – that is the prayer of praise. We perform this most especially in Mass: “Glory to God in the highest …. we praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory”. It’s all about God, we have forgotten about ourselves – that’s prayer at its best. “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts”. That’s why the Church wants us at Mass every Sunday, yes it means missing out on something else, but what about that? There are plenty of options regarding Mass times. With a bit of care, we can make sure that Sunday Mass is of the greatest importance in our lives. It is our prayer par excellance.
The Church, even society at large recognises the value of monasteries, of monastic life, where women/men give themselves to a life of prayer. They do lots of other things as well, but they set aside seven times a day for prayer. You know there is a bit of a monk, a nun, in every one of you. You need a time for prayer every day, and you have to be faithful to that time. It will pay you great dividends. Remember the words of Jesus himself: “God sees justice done to those who cry to him day and night”. Let us decide to do so.
Laurence Walsh ocso