THEME: PRAYER – PLEASE TRY AGAIN
READINGS: Exodus 17:8-12/ 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2/ Luke 18:1-8
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
At times, when one makes a phone call and cannot reach the intended recipient, he/she may hear a recorded message like the following: ‘The person you are calling has not answered; please try again later.’ Beloved, if for the past months or several years your prayers for peace of mind, spiritual renewal, a job, marriage, success, healing, etc. have not been answered, please try to pray again and again.
In today’s first reading, Moses (the great man of God) who was used to God’s prompt answers to his prayers, learnt to persevere in prayer until Israel’s final victory over the Amalekites. Earlier on, in the burning bush phenomenon, when Moses requested for a sign that God would be with him in Egypt, God asked him to drop his rod (staff) and instantly it turned into a snake (Exodus 4). Later on, before the Red Sea, when he stretched his hand over the sea, a way was instantly created (Exodus 14).
Subsequently, when the people were thirsty and God asked Moses to strike the rock with his rod, he naturally expected an instant miracle. Contrary to Moses’ expectation, however, the miracle was not instantaneous; and he, unfortunately, lost his patience (Exodus 17:1-7). Not long after this incident, the Israelites had to battle with the Amalekites. Apparently, yet to his lesson that God’s answer to his prayers may not always be instantaneous, Moses expected that (as he did over the Red Sea) just raising his hands with the rod in prayer would bring instant victory, but that was not to be. He had to persevere in prayer – and Aaron and Hur had to assist to raise the hands of the 80-year+ old man – for ultimate victory (Exodus 17:8-12). In other words, Moses eventually learnt that sometimes one has to pray again and again before his/her prayers are answered.
Jesus gives us a similar message of perseverance in prayer by the parable of a widow who repeatedly demanded justice from a judge. Eventually, her request was granted (Luke 18:1-8). Beloved, let us not give up when our prayer-calls to God are not immediately answered, and the recorded ‘heavenly voice’ seems to say: ‘The Lord you are calling has not answered; please try again later.’ In that case, let us heed the ‘heavenly voice’, and try again and again; we should never give up!
I guess, many of us have had the experience of almost giving up after phoning a friend several times, but then we decided to call one more time, and this time we were answered. Similarly, then, let us keep making our prayer-calls to God – for He will ultimately and certainly answer!
Furthermore, when we find praying alone very tough, we can learn from how Moses was assisted. When he was tired of raising his hands in prayer, Aaron (the priest) and Hur assisted him. Sometimes when we are tempted to give up in prayer, we may ask our priest, family or friend to support us. Secondly, they provided a seat for Moses. So similarly, we may use other things to aid our prayers: for instance, reading a biblical passage, a CD with prayers we can pray along, or with songs we can sing along.
Finally, as you persevere in prayer for that job, marriage, success, healing, peace of mind, spiritual renewal, etc., may the Lord eventually answer your prayers. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis