God Never Gives up on Us; Why Should We?

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Exodus 17:8-13

In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel. Moses, therefore, said to Joshua, “Pick out certain men, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him: he engaged Amalek in battle after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur. As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. Moses’hands, however, grew tired; so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset. And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

2 Timothy 3:14-4:2

Beloved: Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.

Luke 18:1-8

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?”

I remember one time I was trying to make banana bread; I sifted, mashed, measured, mixed and timed according to instructions and lo and behold, my bread didn’t turn out the way it should be! What did I do wrong? Have I not beaten the eggs enough? Or not enough baking powder? Or was it my oven? Do I dare to try again? So many unanswered questions to this puzzle!

Reflecting on this week’s readings, prayer is a lot like baking. The key is persistence. Luke’s Gospel illumines a simple truth about prayer: the necessity to “pray always” and “not to lose heart” (Lk 18:1). The widow in Jesus’ parable can be described as despised, neglected, marginalized, and perhaps, someone who has fallen through the cracks of society. Her grievance is casually ignored and her “opponent”, whatever this person has done to her, seems to have escaped justice. She is desperate and has nothing to lose but keep pestering the judge. This judge, interestingly, is portrayed as an absolute aberration of good governance: he has “no fear of God”; “no respect for any human beings”; and feels that his subjects, people for whom he is supposed to care, are “bothering” him (Lk 18:4, 5). Yet, even this heartless judge relents and grants the widow justice. If this caricature of an irresponsible judge is capable of a tiny act of justice, “will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to Him day and night” (Lk 18:7)?

If our loving God never gives up on us, why should we? In fact, our God is so faithful that He will not “slumber nor sleep” in helping and protecting us, the Psalmist assures (Ps 121:4). In the first reading, Moses’ persistence is indeed admirable. During the battle against Amalek, Moses must hold up the staff of God until sunset so Israel may prevail. Some may consider that unwise: Should not Moses take up a sword to fight side-by-side with Joshua against Amalek’s army? In truth, Moses is extraordinarily wise! He understands that God is fighting for the Israelites and without God, they can do nothing. Moses’ faithfulness to what God has commanded him and his persistence for the right cause has paid off.

Just as Moses is persistent in upholding the staff of God during the battle, we must be courageous and persistent in upholding the truth, St. Paul writes in his letter to Timothy. “Be persistent, whether the time is favourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching” (2 Tim 4:2).

Therefore, let us pray for patience and more importantly, a steadfast faith; know that our compassionate and loving God, eternally steadfast, walks with us through the hills and valleys of our lives. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:16-18)

Oh, in case you’re wondering about my banana bread; success!

Posted: October 20, 2019

Susanna Mak

Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.

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