October 21, 2007 Year C World Mission Sunday
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time/21st Sunday after Pentecost
Reflections on the Readings
By Dennis Hankins
Exodus 17:8-13; Psalm 121:1-8
2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2; Luke 18:1-8
Theme: Remaining in Prayer
To effect things by prayer we must be saturated in prayer.
Each of the readings reflects our need to be persistent in prayer. Moses assists in the outcome of Israel's battle with Amalek. Standing on top of a hill lifting the staff of God above the fray, Israel prevails as long as Moses keeps his hands raised. Like Moses, we are to lift up holy hands unto the Lord. I come from a tradition where the lifting of the hands was freely done. I continue to be inclined to do so in the Celebration of the Mass and the prayers of the Church. We lift up our hearts, we lift up our eyes as the Psalm reads today, and we lift up our hands. Each action brings us into the fullness of prayer.
And from the fullness of prayer comes the fullness of proclamation of the Gospel. The fullness of the Gospel is to be urgently preached and received prayerfully. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. There really is no excuse for poor preaching or teaching of the faith. St. Paul reminds Timothy and us to be urgent in season and out of season. This means the Gospel is always timely. We first must be convinced and then seek to convince, i.e. persuade others of the claims of Jesus. The scriptures not only inform us but they rebuke us and exhort us to be better disciples of Christ.
This being World Mission Sunday, today's readings are a timely reminder to be persistent and fervent. But if we are going to be effective ambassadors of Christ, we must also be bold. Persistence and urgency are never partners of timidity.
As the Lord reminds us in the Gospel, people of prayer should not be timid. We who cry out day and night are promised a hearing with the Lord of heaven and earth. This requires persistence, fervency and boldness. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heavens gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit. (James 5:16-18)
To remain in prayer is to pray without ceasing. This is the communion we have with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is with confidence we draw near to this holy conclave that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) To this Throne of Grace we have been summoned. It is in this secret place where our prayers take shape and have expression. It is in this Triune fellowship in which we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91)
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, I am in you and you are in me. In this heart of yours may the words of my prayers and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you. O what peace is forfeited when I fail to remember to whom it is I belong, in whose heart I am safe. Amen.