In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
V. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
R. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And you will renew the face of the earth.
O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
St. Jerome: pray for us.
St. David: pray for us.
St. Luke: pray for us. (St. Luke is the author of the Gospel, so we'll include him in our prayers.)
St. Ignatius: pray for us. (Wednesday, when the Bible Study is held, was the Memorial of St. Ignatius, Bishop and martyr.)
Recap of Last Week
Questions to Consider
- Do you remember, as a child, asking your parents for something over and over again until you got what you wanted?
- Do you know someone who is particularly persistent? (Maybe it’s you.)
- Have you ever imagined God as getting tired of listening to your prayers?
In the First Reading from Exodus 17:8-13, we hear about a battle between the people of Israel and the army of Amalek. Moses stood on a hill and held up the staff through which God had worked miracles:
17:8 In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel. 9 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.” 10 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. 11 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.The Second Reading, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2, ends with an exhortation from Paul to Timothy to be persistent in all he does:
12 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. 13 And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
3:14 Beloved: Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, 15 and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.Jesus tells his disciples “ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). In the Gospel, he teaches them by way of a parable to be resilient in their asking, seeking, and knocking: in their prayer.
4:1 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; 2 be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
18:1 Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, 2 “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. 3 And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ 4 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, 5 because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’”Gospel (RSV-2CE)
6 The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. 7 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? 8 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?”
18:1 And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; 3 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.’”Study Questions
6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
- What imagery can you find in the First Reading that points to Jesus? (This is an example of “types” in the Bible – the allegorical sense of Scripture.)
- Why does the dishonest judge eventually give in to the widow’s requests?
- Is Jesus calling God a “dishonest” or “unrighteous judge”? How is Jesus comparing God to this judge?
- Why is being persistent important? Why do you think that God sometimes has us pray repeatedly for some gift or grace? What does it teach us – in what areas of our lives do we need to learn persistence? (This is related to the moral sense of Scripture.)
- What are examples of persistence from the First and Second Readings?
- What is the meaning of the question Jesus asks at the end of this parable? What does our persistence in prayer (and not just for our needs) have to do with faith? (This is related to the anagogical sense of Scripture.)
- St. Augustine: To this parable then, the Lord adjoined an exhortation, and urged us earnestly to ask, seek, knock, till we receive what we ask, and seek, and knock for, making use of an example from a contrary case; as of that “judge who neither feared God, nor regarded man,” and yet when a certain widow besought him day by day, overcome by her importunity , he gave her that which he could not in kindness give her, against his will. But our Lord Jesus Christ, who is in the midst of us a Petitioner, with God a Giver, would not surely exhort us so strongly to ask, if He were not willing to give. Let then the slothfulness of men be put to shame; He is more willing to give, than we to receive; He is more willing to show mercy, than we to be delivered from misery; and doubtless if we shall not be delivered, we shall abide in misery. For the exhortation He giveth us, He giveth only for our own sakes. (Sermon LV:1)
- St. Augustine: The lesson of the Holy Gospel builds us up unto the duty of praying and believing, and of not putting our trust in ourselves, but in the Lord. What greater encouragement to prayer than the parable which is proposed to us of the unjust judge? For an unjust judge, who feared not God, nor regarded man, yet gave ear to a widow who besought him, overcome by her importunity, not inclined thereto by kindness. If he then heard her prayer, who hated to be asked, how must He hear who exhorts us to ask? When therefore by this comparison from a contrary case the Lord had taught that “men ought always to pray and not to faint,” He added and said, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man shall come, thinkest thou that He shall find faith on the earth?” If faith fails, prayer perishes. (Sermon LXV:1)
- St. Theophilus: We may observe, that irreverence towards man is a token of a greater degree of wickedness. For as many as fear not God, yet are restrained by their shame before men, are so far the less sinful; but when a man becomes reckless also of other men, the burden of his sins is greatly increased. (Catena Aurea)
- St. Cyprian: Then they used to give for sale houses and estates; and that they might lay up for themselves treasures in heaven, presented to the apostles the price of them, to be distributed for the use of the poor. But now we do not even give the tenths from our patrimony; and while our Lord bids us sell, we rather buy and increase our store. Thus has the vigor of faith dwindled away among us; thus has the strength of believers grown weak. And therefore the Lord, looking to our days, says in His Gospel, “When the Son of man cometh, think you that He shall find faith on the earth?” We see that what He foretold has come to pass. There is no faith in the fear of God, in the law of righteousness, in love, in labor; none considers the fear of futurity, and none takes to heart the day of the Lord, and the wrath of God, and the punishments to come upon unbelievers, and the eternal torments decreed for the faithless. That which our conscience would fear if it believed, it fears not because it does not at all believe. But if it believed, it would also take heed; and if it took heed, it would escape. (Treatise I:26)
We had an interesting discussion about how to reconcile God, as seen in the Old Testament, with God, as revealed by Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
Now we offer our own prayers of petition and thanksgiving. With the whole Church, we also remember the general intention and the mission intention of Pope Benedict XVI this month:
- That Christians may not be discouraged by the attacks of secularized society, but with complete trust, may bear witness to their faith and hope.
- That the faithful may join to their fundamental duty of prayer the support also of economic contributions to the missionary works.