Both in the First Reading and in the Gospel, we have stories that emphasize persistence in prayer. When Moses’ arms are raised in prayer, the Israelites have the better of the fight. When his arms tire and go down, the Israelites begin to lose. His arms are then propped up with rocks and Aaron and Hur keep his hands open towards heaven. Israel wins the battle. In the Gospel story the poor widow gets a hearing from the unjust judge because of her persistence.
Let us pause for a moment and look at the poor widow’s pursuit of her civil rights. She stood alone, in last place; because that is the way it was for poor widows in the time of Jesus. Although a wife had few rights in those days, nevertheless, she did enjoy some protection. But when she became widowed, her minimal economic and social status was almost totally diminished.
A poor widow could not share in her deceased husband’s inheritance. She joined the ranks of orphans, resident aliens and other widows as a charity case. In the parable, the widow instituted a lawsuit which possibly involved a sum of money. Her problem in the parable was getting her case heard. It is probable that her adversary had bribed the judge to keep the case off the docket, a practice that often happened in those days. The Gospel tells us the judge was a man “who had neither fear of God nor respect for man.”
The widow had presented herself before the judge time after time, saying “I want justice from you.” And time after time, the judge dismissed her. Finally, her sheer persistence became too much for the judge to bear and he caved in, saying “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me, I must give this widow her just rights…or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”
Jesus comments, “Will not God then see justice done to His chosen who cry to Him day and night?...I promise you He will see justice done.” Jesus tells us this parable in order to teach us “about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.”
What does this message say to us?
First, we are called to spend quality time with God in prayer. Moses prayed a long time for Israel to win. The widow spent many hours asking for her case to be heard. Jesus spent whole nights in prayer.
If we wish to experience the presence of God and communicate that presence, we need to pray. Ideally, you can have a set time in the morning and evening.
Second, right now if we have difficulties and problems the question posed to us is “Are we really praying?”
The lesson of the First Reading and the Gospel is God wants to help us and God helps us as a consequence to persistent prayer.
Third, Do I have persistent prayer in my life? OK, I have problems and difficulties right now. Am I persistently praying for help?
The Good News is that God wants you to be victorious. In order to be victorious, you need to be persistent in prayer.
Finally, in the 16th century, it looked like all of Europe was about to be conquered by the Turks. The Pope at that time had the rosary prayed over and over again in the churches of Christian Europe. Don Juan of Austria, who was in charge of the Christian Fleet informed his soldiers and sailors to board their ships with a weapon in one hand and the rosary in the other.
The year was 1571. It was the Battle of Lepanto off the coast of Italy. Though outnumbered and facing bigger ships, the Christian fleet defeated the threat from the Middle East. They ascribed the victory to praying the rosary. The Feast of the Holy Rosary, October 7th comes from that victory. The tenth greatest naval victory of all time! Do you need a rosary victory right now? What are you battling with? What are you struggling with? Help is available. At Fatima, Portugal, Mary described herself as Our Lady of the Rosary and asked us to pray a five-decade rosary every day.
Why not try the remedy that Our Blessed Mother has requested?
Hopefully, we can heed the teaching to be persistent in prayer so we can receive the graces which God wishes to give us.
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