16 November, 2019. Saturday of Week 32

1st Reading: Wisdom 18:14-16; 19:6-9

In the peaceful stillness of the night, God’s Word came down

While gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command, and stood and filled all things with death, and touched heaven while standing on the earth.
For the whole creation in its nature was fashioned anew, complying with your commands, so that your children might be kept unharmed. The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp, and dry land emerging where water had stood before, an unhindered way out of the Red Sea, and a grassy plain out of the raging waves, where those protected by your hand passed through as one nation, after gazing on marvellous wonders. For they ranged like horses, and leaped like lambs, praising you, O Lord, who delivered them.

Responsorial: Psalm 104:2-3, 36-37, 42-43

R./: Remember the marvels the Lord has done.

O sing to the Lord, sing his praise;
tell all his wonderful works!
Be proud of his holy name,
let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice. (R./)
He struck all the first-born in their land,
the finest flower of their sons.
He led out Israel with silver and gold.
In his tribes were none who fell behind. (R./)
For he remembered his holy word,
which he gave to Abraham his servant.
So he brought out his people with joy,
his chosen ones with shouts of rejoicing. (R./)

Gospel: Luke 18:1-8

God responds to constant prayer, like that of the widow

Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’
And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”


Ready for his return

Faced by somebody else’s urgent need we may sometimes  go the extra mile to help them. But today’s parable ask for perseverance over the long haul, not just a single act of courage, but an ability to stick faithfully to what needs to be done. The duties of our state in life often seem dull and repetitive, but it takes real character plus the grace of God to keep doing them. It’s about being reliable over the long haul.
Such devotion to duty can accomplish much, such as keeping one’s family going or one’s business afloat, or making our parish a welcoming place of friendship and mutual help. Jesus poses the paradox of someone who seems to be stuck in a rut but eventually succeeds, like the widow who kept demanding to get her rights. Finally the judge gives in, and gives her justice for the sake of peace. We could call this widow the patroness of persistence. Much can be accomplished by not taking no for an answer.
This final verse of this text is odd, as it ends in a question-mark. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Originally it reflected the danger of the Jesus movement being stifled by Roman imperial power; but it can fit any number of situations. One positive response is to be actively try to share our faith, as an when we have the chance. Then when “the all-powerful Word leaps from heaven, from the royal throne”, we will be ready and waiting to greet him.
Now, back to the example of the widow and the bad-tempered judge. In spite of all obstruction, this woman refused to lose heart, even if the judge of her case feared neither God nor man. When he first brushed aside widow’s claims, the odds were stacked against her. But she refused to take no for an answer, certain of the justice of her case. Jesus proposes this woman as a model of persevering prayer.
At the end of this parable, he asks, “At the end, will there be any faith on earth?” On Judgment Day, will he find the resilient faith of the widow still alive and well? Or, as we sometimes fear, will most of our people have lost heart and lost faith? God’s faithfulness is not in doubt. It’s about  our own faithfulness. He urges us to pray continually and not lose heart, for we are never alone in our faith.


Saint Margaret of Scotland

Margaret (c. 1045-1093) was an English princess of the House of Wessex, though born in exile in Hungary. She and her family returned to England in 1057, but fled to Scotland following the Norman conquest of England of 1066. Around 1070 she married Malcolm III and became queen of Scotland. Among many charitable works Margaret established a ferry (“Queensferry”) for pilgrims travelling to Dunfermline Abbey. Se died at Edinburgh Castle in 1093.

Saint Gertrude

Gertrude of Helfta (born 1256 in Eisleben; died 1302 in Kloster Helfta, Saxony) was a Benedictine nun, mystic, and theologian. At the age of twenty-five, when she experienced the first of a series of visions, her priorities shifted from secular knowledge and toward the study of Scripture and theology. She devoted herself to prayer and meditation, and began writing spiritual treatises for her monastic sisters. With her friend and teacher Saint Mechtild, Gertrude practiced a spirituality of “nuptial mysticism,” seeing herself as the bride of Christ.

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