29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Ex 17:8-13; 2 Tim 3:14-4:2; Lk 18:1-8
The first reading from Exodus tells us of Moses holding up the staff on a hill nearby while Joshua led the Israelites in a battle against Amalek. If Moses would get tired and lower his hands, Amalek would gain in battle. Moses’ hands had to be supported by Aaron and Hur until Israel won the battle and defeated Amalek completely. The image of Moses continuously raising up his hands holding the staff is the image of our perseverance in prayer, our life in continuous prayer to God that he may hear us.
Twelve Sundays ago, Luke (11:5-8) spoke to us of a friend who came at midnight asking for bread for a guest who came late. The friend inside was already in bed with his children and was not willing to get up. But because of the persistence of the needy friend at his door, he stood up and gave him what he needed. The lesson was: if we humans know how to give good things to our children, how much more will our heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who beg him.
Today’s Gospel presents a widow asking a judge, not to punish her enemies, but to give her the rights that were due to her. The widow in Israel was the most needy and helpless person, and was always given priority in service. But this judge feared neither God nor men, he was also looking at the power and wealth of the widow’s opponents, and the bribe he could get from them. He was unwilling to listen to the widow. Because she kept coming and nagging him for help and people see it, this could give him a bad name in the community for refusing her entreaties. Thus, the evil judge finally gave in to her petitions and gave her what was due to her. The lesson is: will God delay in answering our petitions? “No” is the resounding answer. Will he not come to the aid of his children soon? “Yes” is the loud reply. (The sentence construction in the Greek requires these answers.) God surely is righteous to punish the offenders and to rescue his elect who are in trouble. If the judge vindicated the widow who was not related to him in blood, God is all the more bound to help his beloved children, the needy who depend entirely on him.
But there is a question that Jesus asks at the end: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” That refers to his coming at the end of time. Since there is a long time of waiting, will the baptized persevere in prayer? Will Catholics keep the faith? Or will they turn of other gods? In a town in Arkansas, U.S.A., neither crucifix nor a copy of the Bible is allowed in school. Then not only is prayer taken out from school, but also satan’s image is installed in the city hall and they schedule a satanic prayer assembly after school. In the Philippines, the crucifix is not allowed in public schools, and religion classes were abolished even by volunteer catechists. We accepted the RH Law and many Filipino families want only two children at most, while Europe is now overrun by Muslims and demographers predict that by 2025 Europe will have not native but Muslim population. Therefore, Christianity will disappear from Europe and Islam will prevail. The question was prophetic: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Will we Filipinos also lose our faith? There are many voices speaking against the Catholic Church because some prelates made statements against the killings in the anti-drug campaign. Then President Duterte, although claiming that he studied at the Law School of San Beda, speaks words insulting God himself. Furthermore, our women in Congress introduce bills of divorce and same sex marriage to be legalized. Are these symptoms of our “lack of faith”? Seeing these symptoms, it is time for us to pray and storm heaven asking for the renewal of Pentecost in the Philippine Church, that our faith be renewed and enlivened, that whenever Jesus comes again, our people may be found faithful.