10-23-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

For over three weeks the major theme of our Sunday scripture readings has been “faith”. The readings look at faith from various points of view and lenses. These readings allow us to reflect upon faith and its meaning for us in our lives.

This weekend our first reading, from the Book of Exodus, praises the power of God, not human violence from war. The passage makes clear that in life God is the giver, human beings are the receivers and also that God is the initiator and human beings are the responders. This reading also highlights two important aspects: namely the need for human effort as witnessed by the perseverance of Moses and also human trust that God will answer prayer as seen in the faith of Moses. This deeply insightful reading, also, shows that prayer is strengthened greatly by the aid of others, often a community, and in this situation by Aaron and Hur. All these various elements combine and result in authentic prayer.

The Gospel story is also about the need to persevere in prayer. The story in fact has as the main character the widow, although many think it is the judge. Note that Jesus told us that our prayer must be like the faith of the widow which is directed to the Almighty and this prayer is constant, persistent, and full of faithful trust. We learn in this Gospel that Jesus has invited us to pray incessantly to God and to trust that God will respond in God’s good time. Jesus wanted us to know and experience the link between perseverance in prayer and faith itself. Certainly the dramatic question of Jesus “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” tells us this. We learn from this question that prayer is necessary to preserve in faith just as much as faith is necessary to validate prayer. The two are in concert with each other.

Jesus seems to recognize that faith is not easy to maintain in our lives with the ups and downs that occur. Note how even the apostles waste their faith at times. Jesus insists upon us having perseverance and persistence because of the good and bad which happens in our lives. Bear in mind that Jesus did not give up on the apostles and He does not give up on us. Jesus has warned us not to lose heart and that we must continue to believe and trust that God is with us and will strengthen us to go in life. God will get us through to the end if we just hang on in prayer. Life is not always easy, in fact for most of us life is obligations and work and constant activity. As a result we can weaken over time. Persistent and trusting prayer to our God will help us through all the bad times to come and to the good times.