Twenty Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C.

Lk 18: 1 – 8

Our prayer today is taken from the Magificat, prayer that Luke puts on Mary’s lips. We should make these words our very own.

My soul (life proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
The Mighty One has done great thing for me.
His mercy is forever.  Lk 1: 46-50

* * * * * *

1Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.

This is an opening designed to get our attention. It is not so easy to read right passed it.  Prayer is very important for Luke. He mentions prayer eighteen times in his Gospel and the topic comes up as many times in Acts. Our opening prayer is just one example.

Let’s look at a few other prayers that appear in this Gospel.

The angels sing out their song of praise. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” 2: 14

In Simeon’s prayer we move from Praise to Thanksgiving.

Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have your salvation, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.  2: 29 – 32

Let’s listen to Jesus as he prays.

“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Yes Father, you have revealed these things to the childlike. No one knows who the Son is except he Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” 10: 21-22

What is your concept of prayer; Hail Mary’s or pouring out your troubles to the Lord?  This is very good.  However there is another way to approach prayer.  Vatican II tells us, “And let them remember that prayer should accompany the reading of sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together for ‘we speak to him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine sayings.”  (25)

Prayer is a conversation between God and us.  God speaks first through his Word in Scripture.  We listen intently and in so doing hear the message God has for us.  Then we respond to God in prayer.  Luke speaks of this process when he writes:

“A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of people came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; (They hear the Word of God from Jesus.) and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured.  Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him (We respond, asking Jesus to touch our lives and heal us) because power came forth from him and healed them all. 6: 17-19

During our prayer we hear God speaking to us, just as those disciples did long ago.  We ask Jesus to touch our lives and bring change and healing to all that troubles us.  This will certainly happen if our prayer frequently commences with listening to the Word of God.

Time now to read the parable;

2”There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. 3And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ 4For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God not respect any human being, 5because this widow keeps bothering me I  shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.

6The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. 7Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? 8I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.

Luke has great concern for the less fortunate. This he probably learnt from the Jewish members of his community.

“You shall not violate the rights of the alien, the orphan or the widow.”  “When you reap the harvest in our field and overlook a sheaf there, you shall not go back to get it, let it be for the alien, the orphan and the widow.  Dt 24: 17, 19

There are two characters, the judge and the widow.  The parable has one meaning when we take the judge as the chief character.  It has quite different meaning when the widow is the main charater.

The unjust judge grants the widow’s request only because she is a nuisance.  How much more will a loving God be prepared to answer our prayers.

This determined widow never let up the pressure on the judge.  The judge seems to have been quite frightened of her.  He did not relish the thought of her striking him and inflicting a black eye. She was relentless in her efforts to break the oppression that she had to endure.  Surely our God will be more determined than the widow to fight for the cause of those who are unjustly treated.1

  1. Patella MF, New Collegeville Bible Commentary – Luke
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