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Contents: Volume 2 - Twenty Ninth Sunday of Ordered time -C- October 20, 2019


 

The

29th

SUNDAY

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Sun. 29 C 2019

Well, I am all for prayer but I know I am not for it being used to "mow down " an enemy as was mentioned in the first reading! Yea for Jesus and the New Testament! At least those who understand the times/ people/customs of long ago will not have to continually battle strict fundamentalists over every word in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament.

But back to prayer and "the necessity ... to pray always without becoming weary." Most people would hesitate before giving a quick answer to the question, "Is God slow to answer prayer?"... unless he/she replied with a very firm Yes. It is so very difficult to remember that God's ways, especially when dealing with time, just do not match ours.

We live in a right now society. Even those of us who intentionally stay out of the fast lane are prone to ask God "when???", sometimes, often, or repeatedly! I can attest to the fact that "waiting " for an answer to prayer becomes easier as one ages... sorta.

I could probably mirror what I have just said with the words "justice" and "speedily" also. Injustice seems to be ever-growing rather than decreasing in today's world. Perhaps, in addition to patience and persistence, we need to have a stronger dose of faith and trust and hope.

There is a haunting question of faith at the end of the Gospel selection ("when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?") that makes me take a deep breath. Then I go back to the charge we have each been given (especially we Dominicans) from the second reading. It says "to proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient."

Except for a very few planned speaking engagements in the past, I can not ever remember when proclaiming the word was really "convenient"! Most of the time, it coincides with being present to someone in need or speaking up gently in times of controversy. A person can only do that effectively at those times and basically be a joyful person if he/she is steeped in prayer especially contemplation.

Yes, there is really a necessity to pray always without becoming weary! In addition to our prayers of petition and intercession as well as contemplation, let us remember that prayer also includes praise and thanksgiving. Fostering the latter two regularly in a family or community has been proven to uplift the spirits of the entire group in general... we surely can use positive attitudes and gratitude in today's world of turmoil, don't you think?!!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twenty Ninth Sunday of Ordered Time October 20, 2019

Exodus 17:8-13; Responsorial Psalm 121; 2nd Timothy 3:14 – 4:2; Gospel Acclamation Hebrews 4:12; Luke 18:1-8

Last Sunday was "Gratitude Sunday," a Sunday on which we reflected on the gifts that come to us moment by moment through others, through creation, and through the presence of the Living God. This Sunday continues our instruction about how God works for us, with us, and through us. This is "Prayer Sunday."

The first reading is about the twelve tribes just freed from slavery under Pharaoh. They fled Egypt taking with them gifts from the Egyptians relieved from the terror of ten plagues. The tribes carried with them gold and silver and precious jewels. At this early stage of their journey into nationhood, they were unorganized and totally unskilled in strategies and tactics of warfare. As they made their way down the caravan routes across the Sinai, their route took them into the territory controlled by the Amalekites whose leader was Amalek. These people would lie in wait on the caravan routes. They made their living extorting goods and gold and silver from passing trade caravans. Amalek believed these unskilled, unorganized Hebrew tribes would be easy pickings. There was no escape for the Hebrews by another route. Moses came to Joshua, a young man with some military skills, and instructed him to pick men from the tribes to confront Amalek. And so he did. The slaves, now turned soldiers, went into battle against the practiced and tactically skilled Amalekites. It should have been an easy victory for Amalek. However, Moses took a place on a hill overlooking the battle field and there, holding the staff of confrontation with Pharaoh, raised his hands to the God who freed them. Moses was a sign to the men battling Amalek of the presence of God in their conflict. As the battle wore on Moses became tired. Aaron and Hur helped Moses in his fatigue to continue his mediation with God for the men fighting for the lives and freedom of the families escaped from Pharaoh.

Our first inclination is to think God fought alongside the Hebrews. But it was the swords of Joshua’s chosen band that defeated Amalek’s bandits. It was God’s presence that supplied the courage and enhanced the will of Joshua’s men. They were fortified by the presence of God. That presence was symbolized by Moses on the hill. When Moses tired and fell from the sight of the Joshua’s men, the battle went badly for them.

Here is a lesson for us. When God is present with us we are able to overcome whatever comes our way. Even if we are bruised and broken, God’s presence keeps us. If we fail to "see" God, if we fail to recognize God’s presence with us, we find ourselves struggling and overcome. We discover we are merely prey to those and to what threatens us. So often in the violence of our world, it appears God has forgotten us, that God has abandoned us to those who would break our spirits and lose our freedom. We become slaves to Pharaoh. So often we think of the children, the women, and the men in foreign lands who are victims to the depravity, the greed, and the tyrannical wishes of despots. We wonder where God is for them. We wonder if perhaps God has gotten tired of our failures. Does God tire of our weaknesses? Does God throw up God’s hands in frustration? If we allow ourselves such despair we come to believe that God’s image and likeness in us is snuffed out. We think ourselves alone to face the vicious beasts that would rob us of our freedom, our joy, and the peace we desperately need to grow.

In the early stages of our growth toward the fullness that is meant to be our destiny, we approach God as we would our mothers and fathers. We whine, we cajole, we beg. When the answers we receive are not to our liking we come to the conclusion that we are not good enough to gain God’s attention. Or perhaps we are told that we just haven’t prayed hard enough, long enough, or with purity of intention. We’re in the stage of toddlers in our spiritual life. Our prayers are about "getting things." We look at prayer as a sort of magic incantation.

As we grow in the ways of the world we move along to another stage of prayer. It’s the deal making of adolescence. "Listen God! I’ll come to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day if you would give me…" Or even better! "If you give me that car I like, I’ll drive my friends to church and to school every day." It’s looking to God as an indulgent uncle or aunt. It’s looking at God for a gift. God’s gift is meant to lessen our personal responsibility to make an effort to attain what we need. It would be like Joshua looking to Moses on the hill and thinking, saying, instructing his troops – "Let’s let God do the heavy lifting. He’s got the power, he’s got the resources, he can do it for us." God doesn’t go back on his commitment to us. God endowes us with heart and mind and hands and feet. It’s up to us to bring about the changes necessary for the survival of humanity and the flourishing of our common home. Like Joshua, we need God’s presence signified by Moses with uplifted hands. Saints have told us, "God has no hands but ours."

As we come into young adulthood, we enter a new relationship with God. It’s more of a "get out of my way, I can do this" phase. We tend to place God off stage as a prompter when we forget our lines. We’re busy collecting, accumulating, and developing productive relationships with others and with the social-economic systems of our world. Our prayers tend to be about getting more stuff or improving relationships so that we gain something for ourselves. There is a great deal of pride in this stage. It often takes a tragedy for us to get past this phase.

In middle age we come to realize that the accumulation, the productive relationships, power achieved, influence collected, and pleasures enjoyed seem like fool’s gold. There is no lasting satisfaction in those things. We’re stuck with running on a hamster’s wheel in continual pursuit of what loses appeal. The alternative is to look again for God’s presence. If we mature in our faith we come to realize the God-spark within our persons has been covered over. Those who search for meaning and purpose in life at this point in the arc of their existence turn to discovering wisdom and understanding of their lives. For many this is a period of despair and desperation. Life is slipping through our fingers and we’ve little to show for it. What’s it all about? How much time have I wasted pursuing meaningless and purposeless things?

C. G. Jung, the respected psychologist writes often about the unconscious that he discovered in his patients. There resides in our persons a spark that often remains unattended. For him it was something endowed by the creator in each person. That unique spark was constantly at work struggling to be discovered and fanned into flame. When there was an effort to bring that unconscious into consciousness those persons gained a sense of completeness. With that sense of completeness there comes joy and an abiding peace permeating all this person did and thought.

What has this to do with prayer? Prayer is often divided into types – petition, adoration, thanksgiving, and praise. But at the very heart of prayer is the recognition of what we are. We pray best when we discover we derive out fulfillment from God our creator. Prayer is getting in touch with the godness that is in us. The uniqueness of each person that ever lived, that lives now, or that will live in the future springs from an expression of God. It’s not that all creation added up would equal God. That’s just not possible. It’s that God is in everything and in every one in a unique way. That is why each person – no matter how attractive or how repulsive physically, no matter how focused on goodness or how depraved and evil – each person has a dignity and worth they cannot forfeit.

Prayer is getting in touch with the source of our goodness. Prayer is the building up of a relationship with our source and our destiny. The more we connect with God, the more God’s presence becomes increasingly a part of who and what we are. This doesn’t mean that God steps in to do our work for us. This doesn’t mean that we can negotiate with God for lottery numbers. It does mean that what is truly valuable in a lasting and forever way becomes more and more apparent to us.

We should remember God gifted us with time. That is so we can grow, that we can change our lives. Just as seeds planted need time to germinate, to sprout, to come to full height, and eventually produce seed or fruit, so also what we are at our beginning is only a seed that needs light, moisture, and good earth to grow. Prayer never takes the place of effort on our part. Prayer helps us to find a way, to discover wonder, to help us when oppression and war threaten us with death.

We pray in private, often using mantras that are repetition of phrases or prayers. These are most helpful in that they cause us to focus. We pray in public when we lift up our hearts in song, in celebration, in mourning, or in efforts to bring about goodness. We pray as a community when we come together to listen to the Word of God and to give thanks for what we have and share. Community prayer binds us to one another and helps us form the army that defeats Amalek who would rob us of what is most important.

Pray often, pray with attention, and practice praying. Like any muscle, prayer strengthens our spiritual muscles, enlightens our eyes, and helps us discover the wonder of life and of all creation. When we see, when we hear, when we taste, when we touch, when we smell the wonder around us, we discover God’s living presence and in that presence discover joy and abundant peace. Let us pray!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

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KEEP ON PRAYING: 29th SUNDAY C

A while back, Christopher Monaghan, a brother Passionist, was giving Holy Communion at St Paul Apostle Church Endeavour Hills (Australia). A small four-year-old boy came to the top of the line. He looked up at Chris, put out his left hand and said in a big voice: ‘I want it here, and I want it now.’ This was one time, however, that sheer determination and persistence could not prevail.

By contrast, the widow in the story Jesus told got what she wanted and needed. To appreciate her desperation it helps to know that she was living at a time and place when widows counted for nothing. There was no widow’s pension, no social services of any kind. She could not inherit the property of her late husband. She wasn’t actually allowed to go to court and appeal for assistance. So we have to admire her front and daring in approaching the judge, and presenting herself not once, not twice, but over and over again. Maybe every morning, noon and night!

She must have been particularly desperate too, to keep approaching a judge with such a bad reputation – a reputation for being always on the take, for always taking bribes. A judge who had no reverence for God and no respect for fellow human beings either! A real crook, in fact!

So it comes as a complete surprise that against all the odds the widow wins her case against her opponent and gets justice from that crooked judge. How did she do it? How did she succeed? She succeeded because she kept pestering him. She was always in his face. She gave him no rest, no peace. Night and day she drove him crazy. She never let up. So finally, just to get her out of his hair, he gave in to her demands and pleas.

Luke sums up the point of the story in these few well-chosen words: ‘Jesus told the disciples a parable about the need to pray always and not to lose heart’ (18:1). Of course, Jesus is not saying that God is like the judge in any way. And he is not saying that we have to nag and wear God down like the widow wore down the judge. What Jesus is saying, on the contrary, is that if in the end an evil judge can give a poor widow justice, how much more will God our loving Father give his children what we need most of all.

We might well ask, though, why Jesus taught us to keep asking God for what we need, when God already knows our needs. In short, why does God want us to name our needs quite specifically? It’s so that we might keep in touch with God. It’s so that we might express our dependence on God and acknowledge God’s love, mercy and goodness towards us. It’s so that we won’t take any of God’s gifts and blessings for granted.

What blessings? The blessings, for instance, of life itself; of food; drink; health; fitness and medicine! The blessings of family; friends; children and community! The blessings of gardens; flowers; trees; pets; music; education and travel! The blessings of fresh air; sunshine and rain, warmth and coolness! The blessings of beauty; sport; art; comedy; drama and dance! The blessings of meaning; belonging; and a sense of responsibility! The blessings of the persons of Jesus Christ our brother and Saviour, and of Mary, his mother and ours! The blessing of the constant presence of God; the promise and assurance of everlasting life with God! And in the meantime the blessings of faith, hope and love!

It happens in our prayer for our needs though, that at times God does not seem to be listening. We run into darkness and silence. At these times we might think: ‘I’m getting nowhere. What’s the use? Why keep on praying?’ That’s precisely why Jesus gave us his message today, his message to keep praying, no matter what.

The trouble with us human beings is that we fancy we know exactly what’s good for us. The truth is that we have limited vision, even tunnel vision. The truth is that we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen next year, next month, next week, next hour, or even in the next few minutes. Only God sees time as a whole, and only God knows what is good and what is best for us, both in the long run and in the short run. That is why Jesus wants us, as Luke puts it, ‘to pray continually and never lose heart’.

We will never lose heart and we will never lose our faith in the power of prayer, if after putting all our requests, pleas and petitions to God, we add a few special words to our prayer. Those words are from the perfect prayer we will be saying today before our Holy Communion! They are the words: ‘thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven’.

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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