29th Sunday - homily
God will provide. These three words really sum up our whole faith in God. It is the faith of Abraham that we share when we say that God will provide. We look at different people as examples of this kind of faith; I look at all parents as examples. When they bring a child into the world, they can’t see into the future and don’t know what will happen. Yet, they have confidence that God will provide whatever their child needs. There is one couple, though, who has stood out to me as an example of the faith that God will provide.
They are a couple that I knew growing up in my home parish. They were very nice, very active in the parish, and very devout. For most of the years that I knew them, they didn’t have children. I learned years later that they had prayed for a long time – 19 years – to God for children. 19 years! As they got to the age when it seemed like it would be impossible for them to bear children, I’m sure their friends were telling them to give up their hope and prayer, and move on. After 19 years of praying and hoping and as it was beginning to seem impossible, she became pregnant! It was a source of great joy for our whole parish, not to mention the overjoyed couple, when they gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Jack. They are a great example of having confidence in God, faith that He will provide, and perseverance in prayer.
These are the themes that Jesus is stressing when He tells the parable in today’s Gospel. He tells the story of a widow who petitions an unjust judge “for a long time” for a just decision in a matter involving her adversary. We don’t know what the matter was, but we can figure that her adversary was a rich, influential person. The judge probably didn’t want to ruffle the feathers of a V.I.P. in his community. Like some judges today, he was acting out of political and selfish motives rather than for the sake of a justice for a long time.
And yet, she had great confidence in him. This was a man who had “no fear of God and no respect for any human being”. That’s about as bad as it gets! She had great confidence that ultimately he would render her a just decision, and he does. Jesus is pointing out to us how much more confidence we should have in God, the just judge, when we pray to Him.
Prayer can be a tricky thing to understand. There are couples who pray for a long time with great confidence and faith in God for children but never have children. As Fr. Mike said recently in a homily, God always hears our prayers, but sometimes the answer is ‘no’. When we are talking about confidence in God, we are saying that we trust that when pray to Him about something specific for a long time, He will give us a just decision. His idea of justice might be different than ours; He knows what we need more than we do.
In my own life, I prayed for a long time to be married and have children. You see where that prayer got me! I though that that would be best for me and that it was really my heart’s desire. I am happy, though, that the answer was no because priesthood is my happiness. And, I have known couples who don’t have children and have found happiness through adoption, serving the community or Church.
I was reading an interesting commentary on this parable. The commentator reversed the roles by saying that God is the widow and each one of us is the judge, and that God pleads with us constantly to do the right thing. He can’t force us to love Him and to choose the good, but He is always pleading with us until finally we give in. One quote that backs this up is from St. Theresa of Avila who said, “Jesus is always speaking to us; the question is, ‘are we listening?’”
Finally, Jesus finishes the parable with a question: “when the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on earth?” Will he find great confidence in God, faith that says God will provide, and perseverance in prayer? In a few minutes, Jesus will come to us in the Eucharist. As he comes to us in Holy Communion, will he find faith among the parishioners and priests at St. Andrew’s?