Sermon for Oct. 21, 2019

A very religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbor came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”
“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”
A short time later the police came by in a boat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”
“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”
A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”
“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”
All this time the floodwaters continued to rise, until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived at heaven, he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”
“Yes, you did my child” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in.”

First Reading
Exodus 17:8-13
In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel. Moses, therefore, said to Joshua, “Pick out certain men, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So, Joshua did as Moses told him: he engaged Amalek in battle after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur. 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. Moses’ hands, however, grew tired; so, they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset. And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Second Reading
2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
Beloved: Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.

Gospel Cycle
Luke 18:1-8
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time, the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you; he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
We must ask God for a gift of prayer! Even that asking is a prayer! But we hear in our readings today the absolutely necessity of praying always without becoming weary. Most of us are not at that stage of life yet!
The first reading, from the Book of Exodus, tells about Moses holding his hands in prayer. When he became weary, the others helped him keeps his hands up in prayers. This story touches so many aspects of our own lives. We also become weary in praying. Sometimes we don’t even want to pray at all. Sometimes our whole being has lost interest in prayer. We need others to help us keep on praying. We need others to encourage us and to help us.
Sometimes we lose interest in praying because nothing seems to happen. We pray and God seems silent. We pray and God seems to ignore us. And so, we stop praying! That is natural enough. In our world, if a person is working hard and gets no pay and no reward, then that person will stop working, unless he or she is a prisoner. We just don’t do things that have no result.
Moses is praying. He knows that God hears him. He can see the results of his prayers. When he stops praying and lowers his hands, the battle changes. We might think: if God would show us the results of our prayers, then we might feel encouraged to pray more. That is surely a human sentiment and one that at least crosses our minds from time to time.
But we Christians need to have courage first to try praying and then perhaps to try not praying and to be honest about the differences in our lives.
Here, we are not speaking only about prayers of petition for ourselves, but also about prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of adoration, prayers asking forgiveness, prayers of blessing, prayers of praise and prayers of intercession.
The Scriptures presume that we are praying. The Scriptures presume that we are people who want to pray and who are trying to pray. And that is surely at least a small desire in our lives. The challenge is how to make this prayer, this relationship with God, the very center of our lives.
Jesus, in today’s Gospel, recommends only one method: keep praying! Persist in your prayer! Don’t give up! Insist that God answer you!
This is strong medicine for us.

We must base our prayer on a belief in God and a belief that God is active in our world. In we have those two beliefs at the very foundation of our life, then we can persist in prayer with the help of God’s mercy. We must pester God and keep on insisting that God give us what we need. In this struggle with God, our faith can deepen and our daily awareness of God’s love, compassion and mercy can grow incredibly.
Let us ask today for the Holy Spirit to be in our hearts and our minds, strengthening us for the struggle and giving us this necessary persistence. Let us give thanks for God’s love for us.

Our gospel theme today is “Persistency in Prayer”: pray without ceasing, pray without losing heart.
As I had spoken last week, opening ourselves up to prayer by simply reciting it and telling our conscious mind which will interpret it to the sub-conscious mind.

Jesus tells his disciples: pray always without becoming weary. And today he tells us a parable, the parable of the corrupt judge.
“There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.’”
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
This last line brings us up short, as the saying goes. And we, too, must cry out and say:
Yes, God’s love never fails and God will love us to the end, and even more into eternity. Yes, God is faithful, but what of our own faith?
Are we, too, ready to rise up and echo the answer of St Peter to Jesus’ question when everyone was leaving him: “Will you, too, walk away?”
Shall we be ready to answer on that day as Peter: “To whom shall we go, Lord, for you alone have the words of eternal life.”
Persistence in prayer is not to be understood as trying to change God’s mind, as if God was unwilling to help us in the first place.
It’s we who need to change… “Not my will but thy will be done.”
His will is our peace. His Garden is our delight. His death on the cross is his gift of faith and a love that heals and saves us all.
And will he find a like faith and love coming from us in return for the love he poured out for us?
It is not easy to maintain one’s calm in a restless, unhappy world, or to be patient in a world gone mad with constant changes.

How to pray amidst the incessant noise and clamor of modern life?

Yes, you say, prayer is the answer, yet what is prayer that makes it the answer?
Prayer is simple, it is the gift of a person, the gift of Christ Jesus Himself.

His presence is a melding of hearts, the sharing of life and love, its thoughtfulness and mutual forgiveness.
Sometimes his words are spoken aloud, and sometimes with the silence of tears, but always, always he is present with us.

Our Lord is never far and we, my friends, are never ever alone.

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