God Never Gives up on Us; Why Should We?

by Susanna Mak
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Exodus 17:8-13

2 Timothy 3:14-4:2

Luke 18:1-8

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!