(a reflection on Luke 18:1-8, the widow and unjust judge)
by: Deacon Paul Rooney
I hope that none of you have superstitious notions. According to a BBC poll just this year, it seems like one in three college kids think it worth giving "lucky underwear" a try, especially just before a college exam!
If you have ever watched "Track and Field" events in the Olympic games, back in the era of the famous Carl Lewis in the late 1980's, perhaps you may remember the name of an Olympic marathon "hopeful" by the name of Margaret Groos, a girl from Tennessee. Before she eventually had to withdraw from competitive sports because of a hyperthyroid condition, someone asked her the reason for her early success. Her answer made it into the "famous quotes" archives. She said this:
"When I was 15, I had lucky underwear. When that failed, I had a lucky hairdo, then a lucky race number, even lucky race days. After 15 [more] years, I’ve found the secret to success is simple. It’s [just] hard work." http://www.quoteswave.com/text-quotes/392817
Perseverance in good actions is always the answer, isn't it? God gave each one of us certain gifts and skills, and He wants us to use them. God did NOT say, "Don't forget to go to work today without your Rabbit's foot." NOR did he say, "Make sure you read your horoscope today, it will guide you." And He certainly did NOT say, "Don't forget to wear your lucky underwear." What he did say is found in the First Commandment.
Well, in today's gospel we have a story of another woman who persevered. However, she did not get her way with the judge because she wore lucky underwear. Instead, she simply kept asking, and asking, and asking, until finally he gave in to her request for justice. The story is pretty straight-forward. If someone like an unjust human judge will give in to persistent pleas for help, don't you think that a just God will respond to persistent pleas for justice? Of course He will!
But here is the key: are we willing to be patient and allow God to respond in His own way and in His own time? This requires faith, believing that the Lord hears and will answer all prayers that are in accord with His will.
There is a footnote in the bible [NABRE] which says that persistent prayer is needed to avoid apostasy, and this is a sad truth. We all know someone who has simply stopped going to Mass. That act of straying from the Sacraments has its roots in the non-existence of a real prayer life. I think we all know what happens when our prayer life becomes lax, or when we find excuses not to take quality time to pray. Eventually this kind of spiritual sloth expands. When Jesus is not at the center of our daily lives, the virtues become harder to live out, and the vices and occasions of sin seem to crop up much more frequently as the enemy gains a foothold in our life. The deadly danger is the short distance between laxity in prayer and eventual apostasy, which is the complete rejection and repudiation of the Christian faith, by deeds if not by public assertion.
To avoid this deadly path to an inactive spiritual life, we need to heed the gospel message today: be persistent in seeking justice, and be persistent in our prayer life. A great image is presented in the First Reading (Exodus 17:8-13). As long as Moses had his hands raised in intercessory prayer, the battle went well for the Israelites. But when he stopped interceding with prayer, the enemy gained an advantage. And when others joined Moses to help him with the intercession, the battle against the enemy was won.
This is what Our Lady, the Queen of Peace, who continues to appear at Medjugorje since 1981, has been urging upon all Catholics: to pray persistently for peace (she tells us that "there will be no peace without prayer and fasting"), and to pray persistently for our priests to help them in their intercession for us. She asks us to pray the rosary daily; to fast on bread and water on both Wednesdays and Fridays; to read scripture daily; to attend Mass every Sunday and as often on weekdays as possible; and to go to Confession monthly.
So there is our roadmap, from scripture, from the Mother of God, and from Jesus: persistent intercession, and perseverance in our daily prayer life. Remember the way our gospel started today, and I quote: "Then [Jesus] told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary." That is the key to victory in spiritual warfare! All you need to do is use it! (+)
Deacon Paul Rooney
Mary Our Queen Parish, Omaha-------------------------
Judge and Widow: http://www.ocarm.org/pre09/lectio/anno_c/orc29eng.htm
Moses Arms Upraised: http://bibleencyclopedia.com/pictures/Exodus_17_Aaron_and_Hur_raising_Moses'_hands.htm
Queen of Peace: http://deaconjohn1987.blogspot.com/2013/07/mary-tv-july-2-2013-medjugorje-message.html