16 November 2013. Saturday of the Thirty Second Week
Wis 18:14ff. In the peaceful stillness of the night God’s all-powerful word came down from Heaven, leading his people to freedom and life.
Lk 18:1ff. God responds to persistent prayer like that of the widow.
First Reading: Wisdom 18:14-16; 19:6-9
For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command, and stood and filled all things with death, and touched heaven while standing on the earth.
For the whole creation in its nature was fashioned anew, complying with your commands, so that your children might be kept unharmed. The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp, and dry land emerging where water had stood before, an unhindered way out of the Red Sea, and a grassy plain out of the raging waves, where those protected by your hand passed through as one nation, after gazing on marvellous wonders. For they ranged like horses, and leaped like lambs, praising you, O Lord, who delivered them.
Gospel: Luke 18:1-8
Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'”
Ready for his Return
While most of us will occasionally go the extra mile today’s texts ask for fidelity over the long haul, not necessarily the single heroic act but the heroism of staying with the daily routine of duty. What we are expected to do seems very ordinary, but it takes God’s extraordinary grace to keep at it.
We may seem to be getting nowhere and yet we can accomplish much, by simply keeping the family intact or the business afloat or the parish functioning as a place of prayer and goodwill. The gospel addresses this paradox of seeming stuck and yet reaching our goal, as exemplified in the widow who kept coming to the judge, demanding her rights. Finally the judge’s patience was wearing out, and so settled matters in her favour. Monica, the mother of St Augustine, is another patroness of persistent people. We can accomplish very much by our daily routine.
This final verse in the gospel is odd. No other parable in the gospels ends on a question-mark. When he comes, will he find faith on the earth? Originally it probably referred to the long trial of the Roman persecution but it speaks to any number of situations. One of the best responses to the question is to be involved in evangelism, each of us in our own way. Then when the all-powerful Word bounds from his heavenly throne, we will find ourselves ready and waiting to greet him.