Homily for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
God likes confident prayer
Today, our Blessed Lord tells us that we are weak pray-ers. But he gives us the remedy for our weakness. This parable comes after a conversation with some Pharisees in which they asked Him when the Kingdom of God would finally come. Our Lord probably detected impatience behind that question, as though the Pharisees were criticizing God for being careless or lazy.
We can relate to that kind of impatience. We can give up on God far too easily. We approach God with less confidence than this determined widow had in approaching a crooked judge. Behind the words of our prayer lurks a subtle tendency to doubt God. We think that just because He appears not to answer our prayers in the way that we would have Him do, he is failing to answer at all.
That simply shows a lack of faith, a truncated vision of God.
In today’s Gospel, we are reminded that we ought to have unlimited faith and confidence in God. No prayer that we utter goes unheard. God is never out of his office: He is never on holiday. He longs for us to bombard Him with our prayers. He is searching eagerly for hearts that trust Him enough to ask unceasingly for all that they need. He always answers our prayers, even when the answer is “No.”
Because God is our Father, all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful, there ought to be no limit in our confidence in Him. So, as is said in today’s Gospel, we ought to
pray always without becoming weary
Being constant in our prayer, just like the widow with her petitions to the judge, just like Moses interceding for victory in the battle against the Amalekites: constant in thanksgiving, constant in repentance, constant in praise, and constant in bringing to God every need that comes our away. Constancy built on confidence – that’s the path to becoming better prayers.
Secular roots produce weak prayer
The culture that we find ourselves living in does not help us to be good prayer-ers. Our culture is secular. The triumphs of technology have created an unlimited confidence in science and human ingenuity. Because of this, the same culture tries to depict religion as a sign of weakness, because it involves depending upon God for things that we are not supposed to need anymore: things like forgiveness, grace, miracles, sacraments, prayer, and spiritual gifts. According to this view, Jesus Christ is a nice, pious man with some good ideas, but basically a weakling.
If any of us consciously agreed with that sentiment, would we be here?
However, because the world in which we live endorses that distorted view of God, it can seep into our minds without us realising it, which will then in turn affect our prayer life.
The parable about the widow and the judge corrects this vision. The judge, although an unworthy man, has real authority. He can issue a decision that will have actual repercussions both for the widow and her adversary.
This is an image of Christ, who also has real authority:
all authority in heaven and earth (St Matthew 28.18)
Jesus Christ is the ruler of the universe, he can influence things. He has chosen to put His influence at our disposal.
Just as the judge would not have acted unless the widow had pleaded with him, so God has decided to make His graces depend (at least in part) upon our prayers.
Ask and it will be given to you.
Search and you will find…
Secular culture ignores Christ because He refuses to be a dictator. We as Christians delight Him by treating him as the generous and responsive King that He truly is.
Filling up life’s in-between times
It is much easier than we think to follow Christ’s directions on this point, to
“pray always without becoming weary.”
First, it is necessary for each one of us to spend some time alone with God every day, reflecting on a passage from the Bible, praying a decade of the Rosary, or praying for our loved ones. That is what gives order and direction to our lives. If Christ really is someone important to us, which He is, that is why we are here today – we will make a point of spending time with Him.
God has designed prayer to be flexible enough to fit into everything else we do as well.
God is always thinking of us, guiding us like a mother with her toddler, or a coach with his players on the practice field.
We really can always pray. Well, maybe not while we are actually in a meeting – but yes, while walking to and from the meeting. Maybe not while we are actually writing the report – but yes, while we are driving to and from work. Maybe not while we are actually playing in the game on the field – but yes, while we are running back to the sidelines.
Our days are filled with a thousand little moments when we are alone with ourselves.
Our Blessed Lord wants to be part of those moments. He wants us to share those moments with us. He wants to share His life with us – as he proves every day by coming to us in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Today, this week, let us fill up those in-between times with prayer: thanking God, asking Him for what we need, and promising Him that we will follow Him no matter where He asks us to go.