Deacon Homily Hot Sheet 205
29th Sunday of Ordinary Time Oct. 20th, 2013 (Lourdes)
Deacon Thomas Winninger, CSMA
Ex. 17:8-13, 2 Tim. 3:14-4:2, Luke 18:1-8­­­

Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed.

            Are you listening to me? (Pause and Listen). I am not hearing anything. Maybe I am not listening or maybe I am not hearing. How many of us have prayed and prayed hard, and prayed often and for whatever reason don’t feel that our prayers were answered? Don’t feel bad you are not alone, there are a great number of people who are counted among this group. But you say, Deacon, I am still frustrated because I do not want to be counted among those whose prayers are not answered. But the Lord says, knock, and the door will be open to you, seek and you will find. So where is the open door and where is ‘all the finding’ that Jesus was speaking about?

            This is the theme of the 29th Sunday of Ordinary time. This is what I refer to as prayer Sunday or persistent prayer Sunday. There are many insights in the exegesis of today’s reading about prayer. For example, Jesus says all prayer is answered but he did not say that your answer would be what you prayed for. He did not say knock and what you want will be open to you. He did not say seek for what you want and you will find it. Listen to the verse, “Seek and you will find!” Ah, so the finding is not what I want for myself but rather what you want, O Lord, for me is that correct? And the finding is what you think is best for me O, Lord?

            So, when I don’t hear an answer at all, what you are telling me is the answer, “No Answer?” All prayer is answered. Then we ask the question if prayer is not about what we want and what we think we want and need, what is prayer about?

            In the first reading from Exodus, Moses had climbed to the top of the hill to observe the battle between Joshua and Amalek. Remember as long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest Amalek had the better of the fight. Is this about persistence, perhaps, but more importantly it’s about focus. Prayer keeps our eyes on the object; in prayer the object is Our Lord. Prayer is meant to help us keep the Lord in the center of our lives.

            That is what David in Psalm 121 sang, “Our hope is in the name of the Lord, who make heaven and earth. Lift up my eyes toward the mountains, whence shall help come to me.”

            In the second reading of Paul to Timothy he says remain faithful; that is focus on what you have learned and believed. Stay the course, do not waver and if you do waver get back to prayer as soon as possible. Don’t give up, don’t give into the world that does not believe in prayer. As long as we pray, prayer is winning, if we give up on prayer, we fail, then the world is winning.

            So then you ask, well what does the parable in the Gospel of Luke about the unjust judge have to do with prayer? But it is not so much about the unjust judge who lacks compassion as it is about the widow who refuses to give up. Her actions were a prayer. She was living prayer by her continual pestering.

            But don’t think for a minute that the judge is God and if we pester him with our prayers we will get what we want. God is not about judgment; God is about mercy. The widow is all about persistent prayer which is all about opening ourselves to the merciful role of God in our lives. It is about humbling ourselves to letting him determine our path. God will intervene in our lives in his way and in his time.

            So, what are we called to do as a result of these readings? First, we are called to pray more, to make prayer a bigger part of our lives. Perhaps what we are called to do is to live prayer. Make how we live our lives a prayer. Second, we are called to learn the pattern of prayer. All prayer follows a pattern. Give honor and glory, give thanks, seek forgiveness, seek understanding (wisdom), and finally seek things. The power of this pattern is that when we seek wisdom, (we receive understanding) and then we don’t seek things. Third, we are called to lead prayer in the simple things like grace before a meal so that we strengthen ourselves to pray when the harder situations come our way.

            You see, O Lord, I am learning to pray in order that I open myself up to recognize the opportunities you bring into my life so that I don’t spend so much time on the possibilities I am trying to create for myself.

For in prayer you will remain faithful to what you have learned and believed.