World Food Day
First Reading (Exodus 17. 8 – 13).
Responsorial Psalm: 121.
Second Reading (2 Timothy 3. 14 – 4.2)
Luke: 18. 1 -8.
Today’s readings are mainly about prayer, perseverance in prayer, constancy in prayer and trust
in God as we pray. They are also about the Trustworthiness and Justice of God, the type of
Justice that reaches out to the poor and the weak, enabling them to fight against injustice.
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. This tells us how we should
put heart and soul and persevere in both human efforts and to rely on God. Many times we hear
people say in hospital surroundings: “They have done all they can, the only thing left is prayer.”
It tells us how our modern mind things about prayer. It means that we generally think that
human efforts are what we should count on, God doesn’t make a lot of difference, but we might
just as well pray. It certainly won’t hurt. 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.”
By introducing the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow 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 tenacity with
which his disciples are to pray. The widow was asking for something which God would certainly
want for her – justice.
The Gospel of Luke as we have seen returns often to the theme of prayer. Not only does Jesus
teach about prayer but he is depicted as a man of prayer. When he speaks about it he does so in
terms that may surprise us. His focus is on the attitude of the one praying rather than on God. For
Jesus, it goes without saying that he trusts deeply that God hears our prayer. Jesus’ concern is
that we might not believe this and so give up. Therefore in Luke we see people praising and
thanking God, giving out to God, turning to him in their need. The message is simple: keep on
praying and remember that its purpose is not to change God but to change us.
Jesus points out thee necessity of praying always and not losing heart. His parable of the widow
reminds us how consistent and persistent, we should be in our dealings with God. Our life
journey consists of two parallel lines. One our engagements with God, and the other, our
dealings with the earthly things and persons. In both dealings our success consists in
persevering, not losing heart at any time and in performing our hard labor at our best.
It is true our secular studies and formation taught us that perseverance and hard labor are
important tools for success in human efforts. Unfortunately the world and the age of
Enlightenment have made us forget or ignore to use the same strategy in our successful dealings
with God. As matter of fact, the scriptures remind us of the need of perseverance and hard work
both in worldly and godly deeds as well.
The underlying meaning is that prayer won’t do any good. That is not what Moses thought. He
told Joshua to line up the troops and march off to war because I am going to pray, and we will
win. The story of Moses with raised hands is not some sort of ancient magic. It isn’t recorded
for us to read, as a kind of mystical motion. Moses prayed for victory and he was persistent; he
was uncompromising; he was aware that prayer alone was the key to victory and success; and he
prayed without ceasing.
We need to combine formal prayers with action prayer: It is ideal that we start our prayers by
reading from the Bible, especially the Psalms and the Gospels. Formal, memorized and liturgical
prayers are also essential for the Christian prayer life. Personal prayer is of great importance in
our life of prayer. Talking to God in our own words praising Him, thanking Him and presenting
our needs before Him transforms our whole life into prayer. We should perfect our prayers by
bringing ourselves into God’s presence during our work several times during the day and by
offering to God all that we are, all that we have, and all that we do. Along with formal and
memorized prayers, this type of prayer life enables us to pray always and pray with constancy
and trusting perseverance.
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 sharp 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.” Sincere and persistent prayer makes us ready to accept His
In Jesus’ life too we see the same persistent prayer. He never ceased praying. He prayed day in
and day out. He prayed alone, in a group, with the crowd, in the temple, in synagogues, and
finally on the cross too. He prayed that His Father’s rule must come and reign over the whole
universe. At the same time he was busy with His daily schedule of family and other works, as a
carpenter for thirty years. Later, moving around Palestine he accomplished wonders for three
years. He was found in the street corners, in the temple precincts, in meadows, on mountain tops,
on the boat, and even on the cross, and inside the tomb. On one line He was dealing with God
intimately by persevering prayer, and on another line He was performing all His daily works by
his sweat and blood.
Victory in life can never go to the hands of people who are quitters and lazy bones. Here we are
talking about our total victory, winning this world and the world to come. The only possible way
to succeed is to persevere and put our hard labor on both our human efforts and in prayer efforts.
It is very true that most of our prayers are unanswered and remain in the waiting list before the
Lord. I think the only reason for failure in our prayer is on our side. Either we are not persistent
in prayer with our total relying on God or what we ask is not in the plan of God.
When our prayer is not signed with our violent, impudent, persevering, persistent and consistent
effort as Moses and the Widow in Jesus’ parable did, that prayer will be trashed by God. No
wonder, Jesus said: ‘Ask, knock, and seek when you pray’. Most of His sayings like nagging,
begging, badgering, pleading, and cajoling. I know it is hard to survive in God’s relationship
without prayer. Worse still, to persevere in prayer like this. This is why, as Paul writes to
Timothy, we should largely support ourselves by the Word of God in the Bible, and by the
Tradition handed down to us. Plus, as community of believers, we should help one another when
we fail and lose heart in prayer, as Moses got help from Aaron and Hur who supported him
whenever he grew tired while he prayed, so that his hands remained steady till sunset. Let me
quote finally what Madam Swetchine, a Russian Mystic said: “There are two ways of attaining
an important end force and perseverance. Force falls to the lot of the privileged few, but austere
and sustained perseverance can be practiced by the most insignificant. Its silent power grows
irresistible with time.”