Sunday Sermon for October 20, 2019, the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Readings: Ex 17:8-13; 2 Tim 3:14-4:2; Lk 18:1-8

In the Gospel reading today St. Luke describes a parable spoken by our Lord to teach us the importance of praying always without growing weary.  In anything we do as human beings, we grow weary after a time.  However, repeatedly doing the same kinds of things increases our strength and ability to endure what we have undertaken for a longer time. 

Since we are speaking of the need to pray always, we can think of something that would require a great amount of time and effort.  Think about someone who wants to run a marathon.  I recall reading the story of a father whose severely handicapped son wanted to participate in a triathlon.  The man was admittedly overweight and completely out of shape.  He spoke of how he began by walking one block.  After doing this for a while he was able to increase that to two, three, and four blocks.  Eventually he was able to begin jogging.

With time and effort this father was able to run, swim, and then bike the distance required for each race.  This kind of feat is amazing in itself, but it is made more so by the fact that the man pushes his son (now in his 20’s or 30’s) while running, pulls his son in a raft while swimming, and bikes with his son seated in front of the handle bars.  It took a while for the man to be able to do this, but he is able to do several triathlons each year with his son.

In order to do this, two things needed to be in place.  First, there needed to be love to motivate this man to do the seemingly impossible.  If he were doing this for himself he probably would have quit after walking a few blocks.  But he was doing this for his son whom he loved and would not refuse anything.  This love is what kept him pushing himself until he was able to bring to completion the good work he had begun.

The second thing that was necessary was perseverance.  A person can persevere in a task for many reasons, but the greatest reason, as we see in the above example, is love.  Think about the situation described in the first reading.  Moses climbs a hill where he is witnesses the battle between the Amalekites and the Israelites.  If Moses’ hands were raised, the Israelites had the better of the battle.  If Moses allowed his arms to rest, the Amalekites had the better of the battle.  With the help of Aaron and Hur, Moses was able to keep his hands raised for the entire day while the Israelites routed their foes.

When we look at his motive, Moses most likely realized the correlation between his hands being raised and the flow of the battle and thought he had no choice but to sit there with his hands raised.  If this were the situation, he might have become impatient, frustrated, or even angry. Because there is no suggestion of this, we can assume he did not feel forced into doing this.  Therefore, his motive was charity.  His love for God and the people entrusted to his care motivated him to accept the discomfort and offer that to the Lord.

St. Paul, in the second reading tells Timothy that he needs to remain faithful and be persistent in proclaiming the Word, whether it is convenient or inconvenient.  Timothy could have done this just because he was ordered to do it, or he could have done it for love of God and neighbor.  People would have noticed in his preaching if he was doing it as a matter of obedience.  His preaching would only be effective it if was done out of love.

Coming back to the point of praying always without growing weary, we first need to determine this is what we want to do.  Then we have to decide how we are going to approach it, then actually begin.  We will need to persevere because we will frequently forget, we will get tired, we will feel like we are failing.  This is why our motive cannot be praying because we need to.  We will quit fairly soon if that is our motive.  Our motive must be love.  Of course, we recognize our own weakness and our total dependence on God, but if selfishness is our motive, we will not persevere.

To pray always does not mean we need to be saying prayers or be deep in contemplation all day long.  Just talk with the Lord throughout the day.  Ask for His help before starting a task, pray while performing the task, thank God when you have completed the task.  Begin doing this, persevere, and in time you will be praying always without growing weary.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.

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