Saturday, October 16, 2010

Convince, Reprimand, Encourage

October 17, 2010
Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

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. 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. Exodus 17:11-12

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; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1-2

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?” Luke 18:6-8

Prayer gives growth to our piety and piety allows us to treat God as a real person we talk to. How much conversation we have with God in our lives shows our piety to its best advantage. How we get the attention of someone we want to listen to us takes the form of raising our voice, touching a person, and getting in their way. There are many ways to get the attention of God in our prayer and Moses was doing it by raising his hands. Conversation between lovers has holding hands as a way to relate. Raising our minds and hearts to God at times needs the help of our body. Moses tried to keep his arms raised so that God would intervene on the side of the Hebrews. I can raise my hands in prayer for a moment. To keep them raised for the day would need the same type of help Mosses received from his assistants. How much easier it is to pray when I am with others who have their soul raised to God. The hands are a mere symbol of what we try to do with our mind and heart. To keep the focus of our souls on God each moment of the day is what the injunction to pray always is all about. We study how Christ prayed to discover how to reach God. Prayer goes to Christ and through him to the Father. All Scripture is inspired by God. What the Scriptures teach us about prayer helps us grow closer to God in all that we do in Christ and through Christ. Our study takes us to Christ.

We pray always without becoming weary when we bring our lives to Christ. He is the way, the truth and the light of our prayer. We study how to proclaim Christ whether it is convenient or inconvenient by beginning and ending our day with him. Our Gospel about the widow asking the judge for justice by bothering him until he gave justice for the sake of his own convenience is a good image about how insistent we ought to be in our prayer. Too many people say to themselves that God knows best which is all too true, but they leave it to God to do what God would do when we bother to bring our neediness to prayer. The world is what God created it to be. God gave us the freedom to ask. God choose the world where we would use our freedom to deal with God. We cannot deserve God’s love. He does not force it on us. We open ourselves to God’s love by our prayer. Even as the unjust judge gave justice because he was asked insistently, how much more will our loving God give us justice because we ask in the name of his Son?

I bring God into my entire day by the prayer of St. Ignatius. “Direct O Lord all my thoughts and actions by your divine inspirations and carry them out by your divine assistance that every prayer and action of my day may always begin from you and by you be happily carried out.” Giving God ‘carte blanche’ on the day by bringing his Son into everything we do makes it possible to pray always. The people of God become the Mystical Body of Christ. We take our part in the divine plan by turning ourselves over to Christ. We thus live our lives as a real Christ to each other. Our morning offering lifts all of us into Christ. It makes our lives true prayer and brings us to God in Christ. At the end of the day we examine all the ways we found ourselves with Christ that we may come to realize in a lived consciousness of Christ in our lives what it truly means to be in continuous prayer to God. To live is to pray. To pray is to find ourselves in Christ.