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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – The Power of Persistence


Persistent Widow“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?’” (Luke 18:1-8)
 
Have you ever been put in charge of children? One thing you surely discovered is that children are masters at getting what they want—just as the persistent widow is in this parable.
 
A play on words has been lost in the translation of the Greek phrase rendered here as “strike me.” The original phrase could be understood to mean that the widow, by her constant badgering, was going to either literally or figuratively give the judge a black eye — either actually strike him or do something to damage his reputation. Either way, Jesus means to tell us that the woman would stop at nothing to get what is rightfully hers.
 
Jesus instructs his disciples through this parable to continue to pray even when it seems that God is not responding. If a corrupt judge eventually gives in (just as you may with some children), will God—the good judge—do any less? God is not ignoring the pleas of those who pray, rather, those who pray do not see what God sees and cannot always understand how God is present and active in their lives.
 
Luke’s message is less about persistence in the sense of holding out as long as it takes to get what we want but persistence in the sense of a deliberate dedication of time to prayer.
 
All relationships require spending time together in order to progress, and it is no different with God. Personal prayer is time spent alone with God—thanking God for the day; asking for help with things; meditating on God’s presence in your life; being together in silence.
 
Pray … pray constantly … persist in prayer.
 
– What does being persistent in your prayer and my faith mean to you?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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