Homily for the twenty-ninth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 18:1-8
Father Daniel Meynen
"Jesus told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, 'In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, "Vindicate me against my adversary." For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, "Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming."' And the Lord said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?' "
"Jesus told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart."
Today, on World Mission Day, hearing a few words from Jesus on prayer is welcome! This is especially true in these troubled times when the fear of terrorist attacks tempts men of goodwill to fall into paralysis... For prayer is the best means of furthering the advancement of the universal Mission of the Church, and it is also the best means of maintaining one's soul and all of one's faculties in peace, far from fear and from every psychosis! It is good to be prudent and vigilant, but we must banish fear from ourselves! Let us remember the first speech of Pope John Paul II, who said: "Do not be afraid!" "Non abbiate paura!" Let us turn to God and Christ through prayer!
Jesus says that we "ought always to pray and not lose heart." This is not a command we are obliged to obey: it is advice. When we have nothing to do, let us pray! There are many times throughout the day when we are unoccupied: if we drive a car, there are many times when we must stop - which would ordinarily threaten our patience - and these are favourable times to pray; if we travel by bus or subway, then too we have free time in which to pray! He who is clever can always find time for anything he wants to do: so then why not dedicate this cleverness to finding time for prayer? It is not necessary to say long prayers: indeed, many very short prayers are worth a long one!
"In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Vindicate me against my adversary.' For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.' "
So Jesus tells us a parable intended to encourage all those who believe in him to persevere in prayer until they are heard. This is not the first time that the Lord tells a parable of this kind. Let us remember the one about the man who knocks on his friend's door, in the middle of the night, in order to ask him for a few loaves of bread to feed some unforeseen visitors. The Lord concludes that parable by saying: "I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs." (Lk. 11:8).
"And the Lord said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.' "
The contrast here stands out, and this is what should motivate the children of God to pray to their Father who is in Heaven! For, if a judge who is unrighteous, that is, one who dispenses justice with partiality, eventually pronounces a judgement in favor of this widow, then it is absolutely necessary for us to believe, without any hesitation, that God, the Father of us all, will hear our prayer and will acknowledge us with justice as his adopted children! I say it a thousand times: let us not be afraid! Let us place in God all of our CONFIDENCE! Even if God does not hear our prayer today or tomorrow, let us believe that he is the only Almighty One and that he will never abandon us if we persevere in believing and hoping in him!
God is GOOD! He is Love! He is already here with us! However, we do not see him... We must believe he is here! We must always believe! We must persevere in faith, until the end, until the end of our life! That is all we must do... We must pray to always believe, and believe to always pray! Until the end... Without ever wearying... Day after day, week after week, year after year. For, in the end, it is the Glory of Paradise that awaits us, the fruit of our long and patient perseverance in faith!
"Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
On the eve of his Passion, Jesus said to Simon Peter: "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail." (Lk. 22:32) This, to some extent, is an answer to the question asked by the Lord: "When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" For Peter and the Church are one: the same unique Mystery, that of the Mystical Body of Christ. Yes, Jesus will find faith on earth when he returns, for he PRAYED for Simon Peter, and thus also for the entire Church! But, the key to the problem is always the same: PRAYER!
Let us place all our confidence in God, and without any doubt, sooner or later, he will hear us. Let us ask the Most Holy Virgin Mary to help us, not only to pray, but also to believe in her Son Jesus, the Redeemer and Savior of all men! With God, Mary is here, in the Church and in the world: with her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, Mary watches over each one of the children of God, who are also her children in Jesus Christ! In this spirit of abandonment and confidence, let us receive within us Jesus-Eucharist, and let us form but a single Body of Christ, in a single faith, a single hope, a single charity!