HOMILY & IDEAS

Ex 17:8-13; 2 Tm 3:14 ÐÐ 4:2; Lk 18:1-8.

Turning Over Stones

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

The first and last line of the gospel caught my eye this week. Jesus tells his disciples to pray always without becoming weary, and at the end of the text Jesus says ÐÐ when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

This first line of the gospel also reminds me of the exhortation from St. Paul to pray unceasingly.

Who can pray unceasingly? What does this mean? Even Mrs. Sullivan who enters the church at 6:00 am every morning and seems to leave at 6:00 pm every evening still takes an hour off for lunch. Is this an unreasonable request from Jesus to pray always and unceasingly? What do Jesus and St. Paul mean by these words? Is this an idealistic challenge to keep us always reaching for an unreachable goal and thus setting us up for failure? Or is this challenge achievable?

If praying unceasingly means endlessly reciting prayers on our knees, we are in big trouble. However, if praying unceasingly means living and breathing and walking and interacting and laughing and loving in a constant spirit of prayer then this is achievable. Further, I believe this is the essence of the words that Jesus and St. Paul speak.

This is a skill that requires time to develop and one must be patient with oneself in developing this skill. An image that comes to mind in order to pray unceasingly is the discipline of wearing special eye glasses each and every day. When one looks at the world while wearing these special glasses one sees God operating everywhere, in everything, and in every person. While recognizing all these things in the course of the day In addition to public and private prayer and worship, one prays unceasingly.

Again, this skill is not developed overnight, but over a lifetime. However, the more often one feels the warmth and love of God shining on his face in the noontime sunshine and the more often one perceives the goodness of God in a small kind gesture of another person and the more often one hears the consoling voice of God in a few words of concern by a co-worker at the water cooler and the more often one feels the loving embrace of God from the arms of a child and the more often one feels gratitude to our God while appreciating the awesome beauty of nature and the more often one hears and sees the majesty of God in beautiful music and breathtaking artwork one begins to develop this skill of praying unceasingly.

There will be mornings when we forget to put our special glasses on. There will be days when we step on our glasses and crush them however, the challenge is to repair them or to find them and to put them back on and to not get discouraged by our failures.

The end of the gospel asks the question--Will Jesus find faith on earth? Perhaps at the end of time Jesus will most easily recognize the faithful by who is wearing these special glasses and perhaps we will most easily recognize Jesus by wearing these special glasses.

In the world today being examined for new glasses, having glasses made, and paying for these new glasses can be time consuming and costly, however, in our prayer lives these special glasses are obtained through an act of the will, with perseverance, and especially by being patient. This is what it means to pray unceasingly and this is how we will be sure that Jesus will find faith on earth when He returns.

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