Our gospel theme last Sunday, the parable of the persistent widow, was about “Persistency in Prayer,” pray without ceasing, pray without losing heart. Jesus tells his disciples: pray always without becoming weary.
“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?” (Lk. 18:1-8)
This last line brings us up short, as the saying goes. And we, too, must cry out and say: Yes, God’s love never fails, and God will love us to the end, and even more into eternity. Yes, God is faithful, but what about our own faith? God is always faithful to us, but are we faithful to Him?
Are we, too, ready to rise and echo the answer of St Peter to Jesus’ question when everyone was leaving him: “Will you, too, walk away?” Shall we be ready to answer on that day as Peter: “To whom shall we go, Lord, for you alone have the words of eternal life.”
Persistence in prayer is not to be understood as trying to change God’s mind, as if God were unwilling to help us in the first place. It must not be understood as our own effort so that God may look at us with a merciful and forgiving eye. God always looked at us with love and mercy and He never changed for even a bit or even in a split of a second. It is we who need to change… “Not my will, but thy will be done.”
His will is our peace. His heavenly garden is our delight. His death on the cross is his gift of faith and a love that heals and saves us all. His very life is our inspiration to achieve the heights of perfection that we can climb. His example is the continuous reminder to us that the most important things in life are not visible in this earthly life.
Now, will he find a similar faith and love, coming from us, in return for the love he poured out for us? Of the good things that he has done for us, what can we offer him in return? I wonder if people are really thinking about this kind of recompence.
It is not easy to maintain one’s peace of mind in a restless, unhappy world, or to be patient in a world gone mad with constant changes. It is not easy how to have a good relationship with the kind of evil mentalities that had invaded our world while we are trying our best to rise from our sinfulness and achieve that perfection in our Christian life. How do we pray amidst the incessant noise and clamor of modern life?
Yes, prayer is the answer, yet what is prayer that makes it the answer?
Prayer is our total submission to the God who will never abandon us in any way. Prayer is our child-like attitude to every situation that gets in our place every day. Prayer is our acceptance that, without God, we can be so restless and sinful in this world. Prayer is truly the answer to God’s call for us to live our Christian lives in this Pharisaical and material world.
Prayer is simple, it is the gift of a person, the gift of Christ Jesus Himself. His presence is a blending of hearts, the sharing of life and love, its thoughtfulness and mutual forgiveness. Sometimes his words are spoken aloud, and sometimes with the silence of tears, but he is always present with us. Our Lord is never far, and we are never alone.