Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Call to Battle - Homily for the 29th Sunday in OT (C)

Since the beginning of the school year, Saint Theodore parish has walked in a special Year for Prayer—a time to reflect more deeply on our relationship with God the Father and, also, a time to grow in a deeper intimacy with Jesus.

During this Year for Prayer, we have seen many blessings and many new initiatives. For example, the children and faculty at the school have begun a 40 Day challenge of praying for a particular person or group of people at our parish every day. With last weekend’s homily, we began a 30-day challenge of gratitude, to think of three things to thank God for and to do this for 30 days. Before that, our spouses were encouraged to begin again the important practice of joining hands and praying together as a couple. If that isn’t enough, we’ve added an extra Holy Mass on Wednesday evening (which has become a date night for a few parishioners) and, overall, more people are attending daily Mass. All the while, at every Staff Meeting and Committee meeting, our parishioners are opening their hearts and revealing their needs and the needs of those around them so that we can be united together in prayer for them. I’m pleased with how this special Year of Prayer has begun. If you have not joined us, I personally invite you to join us in a deeper relationship with Jesus.


Many decades ago, people would often begin prayer with the Sign of the Cross while saying the words: “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Back then, Catholics knew this prayer as well as we know “The Lord be with you…”

Our help is in the Name of the Lord. With these words, we call upon the Name of Jesus who promises that what we ask in His Name will be given us—He who is all-powerful, who made heaven and earth. If He has the power to make heaven and earth, does He not have the power to come to our help? Our help is in the Name of the Lord! We must be confident in this, more confident, even, than the widow who constantly bothered the dishonest judge as we heard in the Gospel today.

For, in the Gospel, Jesus tell us: “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.” Pay attention that even the dishonest one who had no respect for anyone nevertheless answered the pleas of the widow.

Why does Jesus tell us to pay attention to this? Because if such a dishonest one should come to bring an honest judgement, how much more so will a good God bring an honest judgment to those who ask Him and love Him?

Hence, Jesus says,

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.


In recent days, I have begun reading a phenomenal book by Cardinal Sarah entitled “The Day is Now Far Spent.” In his first chapter, he notes that the crisis of faith—the struggle to believe in a God who cares for us and to lift up our hearts in prayer—this is The Battle of our time. A more grown-up and mature Catholic realizes that prayer is not simply pious whisperings. Prayer is a battle. And it is ferocious and requires courageousness.

See the first reading. You heard about Moses with his arms lifted up to the Lord. He was praying. But what is going on around him? A battle. This is not coincidental. There was a direct connection: when Moses stopped praying, the people around him began to be slaughtered; and when he prayed, the people were victorious!

Therefore, prayer is not only a battle. Prayer affects the outcome of the battle.

Most people are blissfully unaware that there is a battle raging around us. I could mention some of the more universal problems in our world and in our Church. But, on a more local level, I have seen the battle raging. So, for example: I have spoken with one person who has been oppressed by demonic things happening in their home; another person seeing demonic things changing their work environment; and another person who is struggling with an unexpected hatred that has descended upon their family. And that’s what I’ve experienced in just the past week.

Your prayer will affect the outcome of these battles, brothers and sisters.


Image result for moses praying battleIndeed, Moses, who here prefigures all future priests, needs help in his prayers. He cannot pray alone and be victorious.

This small detail provides us insight into another important dimension of prayer: not only is prayer a battle, not only does it require confidence and courage, but it also requires others. Prayer is not only an individual action, but a communal one as well. This is why Holy Mass is so necessary. As the priest lifts up his hands and arms at the altar, you are lifting his hands and arms as well. And as we pray together, we start to gain victory in the battle: "For where two or more are gathered in my Name, there am I in their midst," says the Lord!

Hear again those last words of the Gospel. After Jesus tells his disciples the parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary, He asks them a question:

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

When the Son of Man comes at the very end of time, at the end of all things, as the battle rages on, will Jesus, the just judge, who comes to cast judgment upon the Earth (cf 2nd reading), find that we have been victorious? Will He find us on His side—or just another casualty?

Who will have the courage to pray? Who will have the faith to persevere in prayer?

Brothers and sisters, “be persistent,” as Paul says, “whether it is convenient or inconvenient.” For, blessed are those servants whom the Lord finds doing what He has commanded them.

Let us approach now with confidence, for 

Our help is in the Name of the Lord. Who made heaven and earth.