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Homily for the 29th Sunday October 17, 2010

posted Oct 18, 2010, 11:14 AM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

29th Sunday of the Year

St. Mary's, Huntingburg

October 16-17, 2010

 

 

                Persistence ... perseverance ... constancy ... endurance ... tenacity ... steadfastness ... stick-to-it-ive-ness ...

That's what our readings today are about:

... holding on ... staying faithful ... not giving up ... maintaining focus.

 

                We see it first in ol' Moses in the first reading from the Book of Exodus.

The people of Israel were being led by God to the Promised Land.

But the Israelites had to pass through the lands controlled by the Amalekites.

And the Amalekites didn't much like that idea.

And so, today, we read about this great battle between Israel and Amalek.

But God was with Israel ... and as long as Moses held the staff of God above his head, Israel would be winning.

But whenever Moses lowered the staff of God, the Amalekites would start winning.

And so, Moses had to keep his arms held up high ... for as long as it took.

And since the battle went on for hours and hours, eventually, two men had to stand on either side of Moses to hold his arms up for him.

Because Moses  was not about to put those arms down ... until the Israelites "mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword" as the Bible tells us.

Persistence ... perseverance ...  stick-to-it-ive-ness.

 

                And we have a second example in the Gospel today:

This ol' widow was appealing to an unjust judge to give her a just judgment against an adversary.

Apparently, her opponent was powerful to enough to sway the judge ...

... or maybe she didn't have enough money ... or simply refused ... to bribe her way to the solution that she wanted ...

At first, the judge wasn't even going to hear her case ...

But that ol' widow just kept coming back ... over and over and over again ... calling out for her due ...

... until finally the judge gave in ... not out of a sense of justice ... but because that ol' widow was not going to give up.

Again ... persistence ... perseverance ... stick-to-it-ive-ness.

 

                Our Gospel story today about perseverance ends with an interesting question:

"When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

"When the Lord returns, will he find faith on the earth?"

It's an odd question immediately after the story about that widow.

What it means is:  At the Second Coming, will the Lord find faith ... that is, faith like the widow's  faith ... faith like the faith of Moses ... that is, a faith that is persevering and persistent and constant ... faith that knows how to stick with the program, no matter what?

Will the Lord find perseverance ... and persistence ... and stick-to-it-iveness among Christians?

 

                You don't really have to look around too much to see that the question continues to be quite valid.

The question still makes sense today.

Lots of Catholics haven't persisted ... haven't stuck with it ... they've just drifted away from the faith ... Maybe they got distracted by the world around them ... and so they didn't stay focused ...

Going to church didn't hold their attention any more ... it wasn't interesting enough ... the message of Jesus didn't always make them "feel good" ...

Maybe ... more "important things" just got in the way.

Or maybe those fallen away Catholics just met a trial ... a difficulty ... a tragedy ... a tragedy that tested their faith ... made them doubt ... made it hard to go on believing ...  and they just gave up on it ...

 

                Sadly, there are those Catholics who haven't persevered ... haven't persisted .. haven't stuck with it ...

And then, there's most of us ...

Faithful ... most of the time ...

Focused ... steady ... committed ... well, generally ...

Distracted ... inconsistent ... unfaithful ... well, sometimes ...

When the Lord comes again, will he find faith on the earth?

Will he find Christians who are persevering ... persistent ... focused on the program?

If he came on any particular day in our lives ... would he find us focused ... and steady ... and committed in our faith?

 

                In the second reading today, St. Paul urges his disciple, Timothy: "Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed."

Remain faithful ... hold the course ...

And, then lest there be any doubt, St. Paul solemnly charges Timothy ... and, he charges each one of us here today ...

"I charge you ... in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus:  ...be persistent, whether it is convenient or inconvenient ..."

"... in the presence of God ... and of Christ Jesus" ... it doesn't get more emphatic  ... more solemn ... than that ...

And today that same Lord charges you and me  ... the Lord present here on this altar, in this tabernacle: Stay faithful! Stick with program! Don't give up!

 

                Persistence ... perseverance ... constancy ... endurance ... tenacity ... steadfastness ... stick-to-it-ive-ness ...

These are all words ... words that .... first of all ... describe God ...

Before they describe what we are called to be ... they describe what God already is ... for us ...'

God is persistent and persevering  and constant and enduring and tenacious ... in reaching out to us sinners ... in calling for us to come home to him ... in inviting us into ever deeper relationship with him ...

God is that persistent widow ...

... and, so often, you and I are that unjust judge ...

God is the one who is consistently .... constantly ... continually ... calling out to us ... to give to him what he deserves ... worship ... and trust ... and thanksgiving ... and obedience ....

And we are the unjust judge who won't  give it to him ...

Will we give in ...?

Will we give God what God wants ... and deserves ... and persistently holds out to us ...

Will we give in ... and be as persistent in our love for him ... as he is for us?

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