Reflection: Twenty-Nineth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

 Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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[1st Reading – Ex.17:8-13; Ps.120; 2nd Reading – 2Tim.3:14-4:2; Gospel – Lk.18:1-8]

This week, the gospel writer starts by specifying the reason why Jesus is telling this parable and says that the parable was about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. Continual prayer is therefore the main theme of the today’s story.

The parable is in fact quite simple. Jesus compares prayer to a widow who kept coming to a judge. This judge had neither fear of God nor respect to man but she kept coming back to him, asking him to do justice to her enemy.
Let us enter into this story with a bit more detail. The choice of characters used and their social status is of particular interest:

– The JUDGE: We are told that this judge had neither fear of God nor respect for man. One may wonder how can a judge perform his job properly if he does not keep in mind both the presence of a ‘supreme being’ (i.e. God) and the respect for man? Can he be ‘just’ in his ‘judging’? In fact we are told that he eventually decided to give the widow her ’just rights’ not because they are her rights, but because he does not want her to pester him. Jesus finishes the parable by calling him “unjust judge”. This Judge in the parable is in fact the total opposite to God (the Universal Judge who respects men, whom he created as his own image).

– The WIDOW: In the Scriptures, the Widow has always been used as a symbol of someone who needs to be defended; someone who has no one to protect her. She turned to this judge because he is someone who had the duty to defend and protect her … because of some injustice done against her and therefore she had to turn to a Judge to help her. Unfortunately the judge was not really an honest judge … and yet … despite his ’unjust’ ways … he still ended up helping her through her perseverance and her insistence.

After telling the story, Jesus asks two further questions which helped the listeners to better understand. Speaking about God, Jesus says “I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily”. Should it not be God the Father (the eternal Judge) to say this? And here is Jesus promising us something reserved for God the Father! Well, Jesus can say this because he is One with God which seems to be further confirmed by the concluding phrase: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?” The title ‘Son of Man’ is reserved to Jesus who, from being ‘God’ also became one of us, a “Son of Man”. Furthermore, if he is already “on earth”, what is the meaning of “when he comes on earth”? Jesus may be speaking about his resurrection, and therefore he is asking if he is going to find any faith after his resurrection. Now, this “faith” that Jesus is speaking about has to be linked to “prayer” – the main theme in today’s gospel. This is what Jesus does, as one with God, when he asks the question: “Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them?”

Prayer is something that has to be continuous and therefore one needs to persevere and be insistent even if it seems that God is delaying to give us his answer. For one to pray therefore, one needs to have faith and needs to continue to believe.

“Lord, the disciples asked you to teach them to pray. Teach us to pray and help us to have enough faith to pray continuously to the Father in heaven, without ceasing, in all situations that we find ourselves in life. Thank you Lord!”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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