Saturday 15 October 2022

Sunday, October 16, 2022 - Perseverance is the key

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 17:8-13, 2 Tim 3:14-4:2; Lk 18:1-8

We live today in a world, which may be termed “instant.” There is instant communication, instant coffee, instant tea, instant food, and an instant weight loss programme. Thus, in every area of our lives, we expect instant results. We are hardly prepared to wait. This leads to inability on the part of many to be patient and, to an even greater degree, a lack of perseverance. There can be no doubt that perseverance is the key in all the readings of today. It must be noted, however, that here, perseverance is linked to prayer.

This link between prayer and perseverance is seen in the first reading of today. When Moses continues to keep his hands raised in prayer, victory is assured. When Moses begins to grow weary and drop his hands, in a gesture which symbolizes that he is on the verge of giving up, Joshua had to struggle. It is difficult for Moses to persevere in prayer and so, it is difficult for Joshua to persevere in battle. However, because Moses will not give up and perseveres, Joshua is finally victorious.

This is also the case with the widow in the Gospel text of today. She pleads and perseveres. She does not give up. Despite the fact that she had so many things going against her, she does not give in. She is a woman living in a patriarchal society where women were considered as second class citizens and worse, she is a widow and thus, had no male advocate. Even more unfortunate for her, the judge who can decide her case is one who fears neither humans nor God. He can hardly be seen as someone who will be concerned with justice. Yet, the Judge relents, not because he is suddenly converted but, for fear of being worn out by the woman’s persistence and perseverance. Perseverance wins the widow justice.

The exhortation that Paul gives to Timothy, about being persistent, at the end of the Second reading of today is an exhortation that the widow, Joshua, and Moses had already taken to heart. They persevered even when the situation and time were unfavourable. They were patient and able to wait for what God had in store for them. Thus, each was victorious. Timothy is exhorted to do the same. He is asked to remain firm and persevere whether the external situation is good or not so good and whether things are going his way or not. He is to be patient and not give up. He is not to give in.

One of the grave dangers that many of us face today is that of quick fix solutions. We are hardly able to endure obstacles and difficulties without getting weary and tense. We are hardly able to be serene and calm in the face of hindrances that come our way. One reason for this is that we do not believe enough in ourselves. Another reason is that we do not believe enough in God. Confidence in one’s ability to stick with it and confidence in the fact that God will always do what is best for us are crucial to our getting what we are seeking for. Anyone ought to know that the easiest way to failure is to give up at the slightest sign of an impediment or hindrance. Yet, the one who, despite all odds, perseveres also knows that, though it is not easy, perseverance wins the day.


It is easy to begin with a bang, but often those who do, end with a whimper. The way to do is to keep on keeping on. Some interpreters of the Gospel parable of today see in the widow God, who, like the widow, will not give up on human beings. Until they relent, he will persevere with them. Even if one accepts this interpretation, the point being made is the same. God does not give up on us. Why must we give up on ourselves? Why must we give up on others?


The Gospel text of today ends with a question asked by Jesus: “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” In order to answer affirmatively, we must be ready to profess a faith like that of the persistent widow who demands justice and the pious widow who prays night and day. We need to be like Moses, and Joshua, and not give up or give in even when we imagine that we are fighting a losing battle. We need to take to heart the exhortation of Paul to Timothy, to persevere in the face of all odds.


When the Son of Man comes, will he find such faith among God’s elect? Will he find that we have a widow’s faith? Will he find that we have persevered?


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