Twenty Ninth Sunday in the Ordinary Time
Exodus 17:8-13; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8.
Faith is the force of perseverant prayer. The audacity of moral faith is able to pull down any wall of injustice and corruption. Persevering in prayer is the revolution that transforms any corrupt system. Jesus Christ expects this faith on his second coming. The readings of this Sunday describe the beauty of perseverance in prayer. Prayer is linked with faith for it is the force of every Christian action towards righteousness. It is the only link to the divine. The parable of the corrupt judge in the gospel and the encounter of the Israelites and the Amalekites at Rephidim in the first reading, tell us the power of perseverance in prayer.
The corrupt judge fears ‘neither God nor man’ making him unapproachable. But the widow kept on knocking at his door with her pleas for justice. Her perseverance became the nuisance that won her the attention of the corrupt judge. The corrupt judge granted her request in order to get her off his track. She was a disturbance, a nuisance. He felt disturbed and not convinced of her innocence. He noticed that his fearlessness and godlessness does not scare the poor widow. The audacity of her perseverance stirred him into granting her wish. Injustice and corruption give way to the ‘nuisance’ of perseverant faith. It was a peaceful resistance to his fearless and godless nature. His unapproachable presence was for the widow a surmountable obstacle. It depicts what faithful prayer does at the face of obstacles. We have to look beyond the encounter to see the faith that the Son of Man expects to see at his coming. It is about moral disposition of faith and prayer.
The judge does not depict God’s attitude towards our petitions. God is not a brick wall that we need to break through with our prayers. Rather God answers our prayers in an amazing way. At the wake of his ministry, Jesus Christ did not succumb to military revolution in order to alleviate the suffering of the Jews. Rather he proposed a spiritual revolution of repentance from sin, i.e. getting the people to understand that perseverance in righteousness is the force that will pull down the leadership crisis of the time. He differed from the Sanhedrim who pointed accusing fingers at the Roman Emperor in order to distract the people from the corrupt practices of the temple. The spiritual revolution proposed by Jesus Christ ‘appears’ not to go down with our human nature at the face of crisis. We like pointing accusing fingers. We are familiar with military actions, riots and demonstrations at the face of social crisis. The scapegoat mechanism has been our way of establishing societal peace. It is simple, the society unites against an unfortunate one all believes is responsible for the crisis. His expulsion from the society or death restores peace. Jesus’ mission was to substitute this scenario with forgiveness. Thus perseverant faith is a transforming process towards love and peace.
Cardinal Ratzinger distinguished between ‘religion’ and ‘faith’ as every religion is not ‘belief’. According to him, ‘it is by no means self-evident that the central expression of Christianity should be the word credo, that the Christian should describe this attitude to reality as being that of “belief”’ faith is rooted in the relational aspect of humanity. Our actions are to be viewed from the point of belief. Faith prompts our actions. This is exactly what the apostle Paul reminded Timothy in the second reading. Timothy was to be mindful of his rootedness in faith through the word of God. According to St. Paul, ‘This is how the man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work.’ Faith transforms us to act in a certain way. This transformation happens within the context of prayer.
The encounter between the Israelites and the Amalekites at Raphidim shows the transforming power of perseverant faith at the face of life obstacles and challenges. United in prayer at the hilltop, the children of Israel raised up ‘the staff of God’ through the hand of Moses. The aggression of the Amalekites was confronted with united action in prayer. It is not cowardice to prayer at the face of a challenge or an obstacle. It is proper to approach it with the wisdom of faith that comes through prayer.
Anthony Ekpunobi, C.M.
 Ratzinger J. Introduction To Christianity. Sans Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990. P. 23.
 2 Timothy 3:17.