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Pray for Each Other

October 16, 2022

A reflection for the 29th Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year C. The readings are Exodus 17:8-13, Psalm 12, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2 and Luke 18:1-8.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

This gospel makes me angry.

Well… maybe not angry, but I don’t like it.

I don’t like it because it starts off by saying that Jesus tells us this story to show us that we should pray persistently and it implies that if we do, not only will God respond, but God will give us what we are praying for. But you and I know that is not true. How many people do we know who pray, persistently; they beg, day and night to be cured of cancer or for a loved one to be cured from cancer; they pray for healing or to be freed from a certain affliction, they pray for their marriages to change, or for a war to end. And God does not give them what they are asking for. We still have young mothers dying of cancer and marriages breaking up. We still have young people struggling with mental illness, anxiety and depression; we still have war. How many times have I prayed for someone to be healed and in the end they die? And so, yeah, it makes me a little angry, because, what? Am I not praying hard enough? Am I not praying long enough? Is it that I don’t believe enough or that I don’t see? Is my faith not strong enough? I’m not saying that we need Mary to appear to us with a message like she appeared 100 years ago to those children in Fatima, but something…. anything. Because a lot of times, from God, we get… nothing.

And so I tell myself that Jesus is not speaking about prayer; or not about prayer specifically.

At the end of the reading, Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” That makes me think that Jesus is not speaking about prayer specifically; he’s speaking about faith. We need to be persistent with our faith. We need to work at faith and persevere, even when it’s difficult. Because the work of faith is not easy. We don’t know what we need to do; we don’t know what we’re doing. We come to Mass every week and don’t get anything out of it; we don’t feel anything; our prayers feel empty and hollow…. and so we stop trying. We get hit by a pandemic and we just stop going to Mass. We have so many parishioners that have simply stopped coming. I don’t know where they are. I don’t think they’re even watching online. But Jesus tells us today that we have to work at our faith, as much and as hard as that widow in today’s Gospel worked at getting what she needed from the judge. Maybe we don’t want it as badly as she did. Maybe it’s just too hard when we are not getting results.

Which is why, the message I want to leave you with today is from our first reading. We’re talking about Moses here: the great prophet Moses. Moses is the only person in scripture that’s described as being able to see God face to face. Moses spoke with God and God responded to him; Moses heard his voice; they spoke face-to-face. I don’t think we can say that Moses didn’t pray hard enough or that his faith wasn’t strong enough. But, Moses also grew tired and needed support. If Moses needed support, then we do to.

And when it comes to prayer, the Church calls this type of support, intercessory prayer. This is praying for others; lifting up others in prayer. Many of you do it. Since Abraham, we’ve had people in the Bible praying for others. When others can’t do it themselves, when it’s too hard, when they’ve lost the strength, they need us to pray for them. When they can’t keep their arms raised up, they need us to support their arms, to lift them up, to intercede for them. I have a group of Prayer Warriors, many from this parish, that help me pray for others – and I help them pray when they are interceding for someone else. If you ask me to pray for you, it’s not just me praying, there are 10 other people praying for you – because I can’t do it alone. And there are other prayer groups in this parish that do the same. Maybe this is something you can do with 3 or 4 friends. Share prayer intensions with each other. When someone asks you to pray for them, share that with those close friends and do the same for them. That is how we are called to intercede for each other, so we can support each other when times are tough. Those of you who are going through times of spiritual strength, please make a point of praying, interceding for others and when you are having a hard time; going through a rough patch, when prayer is hard for you, ask others to pray for you.  I’d like to think that one of the reasons that widow in the Gospel was successful is that she had a group of friends that helped her with ideas and encouragement.

And don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. God cares. But also pray what our Opening Prayer was today, “that your will be conformed to God’s will”. Also pray that God will make you holy and bring you closer to Him. Remember, prayer doesn’t change God. Prayer will change you. You may not get what you are praying for, but you will draw closer to God and it will strengthen your faith. Ultimately, isn’t that the only thing that matters?

There’s a wonderful initiative this Tuesday, October 18th. It happens every year on October 18th. It’s called One Million Children Praying the Rosary. It’s very simple: one million children praying the rosary for unity and for peace. If you are a child, if you have children, if you have grandchildren, if you are a teacher and have a classroom full of children – this Tuesday, make some time to pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary with them. St. Padre Pio once said that if one million children would pray the Rosary it would change the world. Don’t you think so? And we don’t have to stop at a million, and it doesn’t only have to be children. Click on One Million Children Praying the Rosary and register so that they can keep track of the numbers. Prayer will change the world – if we were all constantly praying for each other in this Parish, it would change this Parish.

Today Jesus tells us to never give up working on our faith. Whether it’s praying with, reading or studying Scripture, like St. Paul tells us in the second reading; whether it’s doing works of mercy; whether it’s praying for others – don’t ever give up, no matter how hard it is. And when it is hard, know that there are so many others that will intercede for you, pray for you and lift you up in prayer. With each other’s help, just like Moses did, we will win the battle, you will get closer to God, your faith will be strengthened and when the Son of Man comes, He will find faith on earth.

From → English

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