Reading. Understanding. Living
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Coming Sunday

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time


First Reading Exodus 17:8–13

Psalm Psalm 121:1–8

Second Reading 2 Timothy 3:14–4:2

Gospel Luke 18:1–8


Psalm 121:1–8

I lift up my eyes to the hills—

from where will my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

he who keeps you will not slumber.

He who keeps Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;

the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;

he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep

your going out and your coming in

from this time on and forevermore.

Reading the Word

Exodus 17:8–13

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some men for us and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword.

2 Timothy 3:14–4:2

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.

Luke 18:1–8

Then 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 the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Hearing the Word

“Conduits to God”

All believers need God’s power to persevere in faith and live it out, and that power comes through contact with God. Today’s liturgy offers several suggestions on how this contact can be established and sustained.

On the way to the promised land, the Israelites had to pass through the territories controlled by the Amalekites, a nomadic tribe living in the deserts of Sinai. Since the Amalekites did not want the Israelites in their lands, military confrontation became inevitable. Today’s reading describes the battle between the two groups, showing how God yet again intervened and saved his people from destruction.

Joshua and his soldiers alone could do little against the superior Amalekite military power. Knowing this, Moses extended his hand towards heaven in a gesture of prayer and supplication. While his hands remained extended, the Israelite soldiers prevailed in battle. When Moses’ hands dropped down from exhaustion, the Israelite soldiers lost strength in the field. Moses acted like a channel or a conduit through which divine strength flowed to the soldiers. To aid the weakening Moses, Aaron and Hur stood by his sides and held up his arms to ensure that they remained stretched up to heaven. This strategy worked and, after a full-day’s battle, Joshua and his soldiers defeated the Amalekites. The Israelites were safe and the way to the promised land stood opened.

This story delivers an instructive message. Only God can save and protect his people from a superior enemy. However, God’s power descends and empowers the community when its members work together. Today’s reading shows a conduit built of people through whom God’s power worked. It flowed down from God through Moses’ extended hands supported by two other Israelites, finally reaching Joshua and his soldiers on the battlefield. The story teaches that the life of the nation depends on its members working together to establish and maintain a connection to God. National well-being and survival never depend on a lone individual effort but on the community. For the Israelites, their conduit to God was their community.

The second reading contains Paul’s further instructions to Timothy. In the preceding verses, Paul alludes to the tremendous challenges and sufferings he endured in his long apostolic service. In this context, Paul’s admonitions to Timothy are a form of sharing on what gave Paul the courage and strength to persevere in apostleship against overwhelming odds. First, Paul pointed to the sacred Scripture which was his guide for life. Training as a Pharisee in his youth, Paul would have memorized vast parts of the Old Testament and been trained to interpret and explain them. He knew that these sacred books were written under God’s guidance; they were inspired by God and given to the Israelites as instruction to shape every aspect of their life. Paul reminded Timothy that his faith in Christ was shaped by the Old Testament Scriptures where Christians found prophecies and passages that allowed them to understand Jesus and his work of salvation. Therefore, Timothy ought to look to the Scriptures for guidance, to enable him to teach and correct errors that kept creeping into his community. He also ought to look to the Scriptures for “training for righteousness”, that is for nourishing his own faith and growth in the apostolic zeal. Paul sees the Scriptures as an essential part of Timothy’s life and leadership. These sacred writings are to serve him as a conduit that would link him to God, so that he may understand God’s purposes and the manner of guiding others in the life of faith.

In the second part of the reading, Paul solemnly charges Timothy with teaching and proclaiming the good news in all circumstances, as he himself did. Again, the power and guidance for such courageous and zealous missionary endeavour will come from the Scriptures. For Paul, the God-inspired Scriptures serve as a conduit through which God inspires believers and guides them on the way to salvation.

The Gospel story of the persistent widow is located in the context of Jesus’ promise of the coming of God’s kingdom in its fulness when he returns to earth at the end of times (Luke 17:20-37). At the end of that story, Jesus’ returns to the theme of his return with a question, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Jesus apparently wonders whether his disciples and the subsequent generations of Christians would lose their faith in his absence. How many true believers will there be on earth when he returns? He considers the loss of faith a real possibility and tells the story of the widow to address this danger.

In the story we find an arrogant and godless judge. He respects neither God nor people, which means he feels no obligations towards anyone, including God and God’s law. This individual will not be forced to do anything he does not want. True to his character and negligent of his duties, the judge is indifferent to the widow’s calls for justice and for protection against her opponent. Finally, bothered by her persistence, the judge yields to the woman’s requests and grants her justice.

Jesus explained the meaning of the story. It teaches that if this godless and indifferent judge finally granted the woman her request, how much more a good and caring God will listen to the pleas and prayers of the people he loves.

The situation of believers in the world after Jesus’ departure can be likened to the situation of the widow. She was not only a widow but was also alone, otherwise a male relative would have defended her and come to see the judge on her behalf. She requests justice, which means that she was probably stripped of property and possessions by heartless relatives of the deceased husband. She is alone in the world and, if justice is not done, she will suffer utter destitution and helplessness. Her persistent prayer brought her justice and probably saved her life.

Telling this story, Jesus shows the disciples what they need to do to maintain their faith in his absence – they need persistent prayer to stay connected to him and to God. Without prayer they will be helpless and alone in this world. Prayer will serve as a conduit uniting the disciples to Jesus. Through prayer they will preserve their faith until he returns.

Today’s liturgy identifies three conduits which channel God’s power to believers, to sustain their faith. The first channel is the community which, as for the Israelites in the desert, provides that power which believers need to sustain their faith against challenges and enemies. The second channel is the sacred Scripture which Paul identified as a source of guidance, inspiration and apostolic zeal for Timothy, and for all other Christians. Lastly, Jesus presents persistent prayer as the means to sustain faith while believers wait for Jesus’ return. Through these three conduits God’s grace and power pours down upon believers so that they can exclaim with the Psalmist, “our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Listening to the Word of God

This Sunday’s liturgy makes us keenly aware how blessed we are because of God’s willingness to communicate with us. He sustains us consistently on our journey through life by giving us his strength and power. He also communicates with us to help us to navigate the twists and turns of daily life. His guidance helps us to avoid pitfalls and traps that we encounter on the way. For reasons unknown to us, God chose to give us life and to draw us to himself, so that we can enjoy ever fuller life on earth, and eternal life in the future. This great perspective, that we as Christians have, is a true blessing in a world where so many struggle to find sense and meaning in life.

Our times have been called by many “the secular age”. It is true that this is a time when religious indifference takes hold of many areas of the world. Never in world’s history have there been so many atheists or people who have no religious association. This is the case because of the loss of contact with God. We live in this age and are exposed to this same temptation. Today’s liturgy helps us to face this challenge, identifying three main ways in which we can draw on God’s power and seek his guidance.

Christianity has developed as a community-based religion. From the start, the apostles, such as St. Paul, established Christian communities where faith could be practiced and protected. They knew that individual Christians surrounded by the powerful and attractive pagan culture of that time cannot survive in isolation. They knew that faith can develop and thrive only in community. Our age has also been called the age of individualism. This is certainly true as the focus of life in the modern world shifted from families and communities to individuals. Yet, it is precisely in the community where we are stimulated to build up our faith through sharing it with others. Like Moses, we “keep our hands extended to heaven” when we join together, so that our faith can survive those aspects of modern culture which threaten to destroy it.

The Scriptures keep the Christian community alive. In God’s word we find inspiration and guidance in our journey through life. God chose to reveal his thoughts and plans through the Scriptures. By reading Scripture, studying Scripture and meditating on Scripture we come into contact with the divine mind and with the divine person. This contact is our education. It can be likened to being taken by the hand and guided in the right direction by a caring and concerned parent.

Prayer is the food of the soul. In the beautiful story of the persistent widow Jesus correctly wondered whether anyone can survive as a Christian immersed in this world without prayer. Realizing what they will face, and what we face today, Jesus admonishes his disciples to be persistent in prayer, knowing that only through prayer and the connection with God can faith be maintained. While the community supports us and the Scriptures direct us, prayer brings us before God. The crisis of faith for many of us begins when we cease to pray regularly. May this Sunday’s powerful message help us to maintain our faith and direct us to walk in the right direction together with others, until we reach that goal which God has set for our life.


“If the elders leave you a legacy of dignified language, do not abandon it to speak childish language.”



Do I communicate with God on daily basis? How?

Which of the three conduits to God described in today’s liturgy do I use most frequently, and which do I neglect? Why?


Response to God

I will set aside ten minutes of my time every day in the course of this week for reading of the Scriptures, and the prayer which will be guided by the passage I read.


Response to your World

Following on my earlier reflection, I will take steps to establish and use the channel of communication with God that I have been neglecting.

In our gathering, we will thank each other for joining this community and for being a channel of communication to God for one another. How can we do so even more effectively?


Lord God we give you thanks for reaching out and communicating with us. Thank you for sharing your life with us and for guiding us with your word. Nourish and sustain us as we journey through this life towards eternal life with you. Amen.

Scripture quotations from New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, © 1989, 1993. Used with permission.



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