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October 16, 2022: Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Constructed through Expectant Prayer”

Genesis 32: 22-30/Psalm 121/2 Timothy 3: 14-4: 5/Luke 18: 1-8

Bishop Ariel P. Santos

Jesus’ purpose in the parable in today’s gospel is to show His disciples, you and I, that we should pray, believe, and act at all times and not lose heart.

We are to have faith and persevere in our faith. Faith is not magic, not telekinesis, not mind over matter or positive thinking. The measure of true faith is not necessarily the result, whether positive or negative. We have wrong notions about faith. In Mark 11:23-24, Jesus says, “Believe that you have received what you ask and will be granted you.” The first wrong notion is convincing ourselves that we have received what we asked for and it will be granted. With this, we think that if we pray and we have received it, then, we can stop praying because we no longer doubt that our prayer has been answered. It contradicts what Jesus is saying in the parable to pray at all times, and do not lose heart. St. Paul says to pray without ceasing. I am for hyper faith; in fact, we could never have too much faith. We cannot presume and preempt God. We have to put our faith and trust in Him.

The second wrong notion about faith is that the sick, the poor, and the unsuccessful don’t have faith. The health, rich and successful do. We become judgmental based on results that we see. I believe that if we obey God, we will prosper, but there are those who don’t obey God and yet prosper. This is the complaint of the psalmist in Psalm 37 about the evildoers prospering but he ends it with putting his trust in the Lord even in the midst of lack of understanding. It is not a lack of faith to go through difficulties, through the storm, and unpleasant things. Jesus says that in the world, we will have tribulations and through these, we must enter the kingdom of God.

Faith is demonstrated in a corresponding action, not necessarily in the result that we demand or asked for. Results or fulfillment may sometimes take a long time, so continue in our faith. Even if our hope is not yet seen, our action is what substantiates our faith. Faith is having a vision of the unseen goal which motivates us to act accordingly. It is envisioning something and moving in that direction.

As a metaphor, in a track and field relay course, we see the finish line; but to get there, a baton is passed on from one runner to another, until the last runner gets the baton and runs to the finish line. When they win, not only does the last runner get the trophy, but all those who in the team for without one, they will not accomplish the victory. The victory of the last runner is the victory of the whole team. The point is we ran toward the goal.

St. Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” Our problem is that we don’t forget what lies behind. We don’t let go. There is a reason why a rearview mirror of a vehicle is small compared to its windshield. We do need a rearview mirror to look what is behind, but the windshield is big so that we can see where we are going and reach our destination. If we spend too much looking at the rearview mirror, we might encounter an accident. We may not see the destination at the start, but we move because we believe that eventually, we will get there.

We must reach forward toward what lies ahead. Reaching is to stretch; to strain; to try hard; to reach forward; to struggle; to do our best; to extend ourselves; to push hard; to press on; to pursue; to keep running; to chase; to strive, and to sprint toward the goal. In The Message Translation, St. Paul says, “I’ve got my eye on the goal and will keep moving further with eyes on the prize.”

In Hebrews, Jesus said that He had a joy before Him and this is what gave Him the strength to endure the cross. The cross was very painful, but He endured it because in front of Him was the vision: the salvation and redemption of all men. Hebrews 11 is a list of the heroes of the Old Testament. These heroes died without seeing God’s promise. In verse 13, it says that all of them were still living by faith when they died; they didn’t receive what was promised; but they saw it and welcomed them from a distance.

We profess in the Creed that we look to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. The question is: are we headed that way? The life of the world to come that we hope for is an environment, a society where there is justice, compassion, righteousness, love, equality and peace. There is no corruption; tears will be wiped away. Pain will be no more; death will be no more. There will only be love. This is what we are dreaming and hoping for. This is why faith without works is dead and incomplete. Zeal and commitment, no matter the circumstances, give substance to faith.

In the life of the three Hebrew children, they did not bow to other idols; only to the God of Israel. They were not intimidated to be placed in the fiery furnace saying, “God will deliver us and even if He doesn’t, we will still serve Him and not bow down to the idols. Our faith will not be shaken.” Did they know that they will not be burned? No, but they proved their faith!

It is not a lack of faith when we are not delivered. On the contrary, we prove our faith. Do we know we will get results and when? No, because we can’t preempt God; but we know the ending – that the kingdom of God is always on the increase. We know that one day, every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. One day, the whole world will be filled with the knowledge and the glory of God as water covers the seas. We say that we don’t know what tomorrow will hold, but we know Who holds tomorrow. This is our assurance.

Our concern is not the outcome, but what we know, we need to do more than the result. St. Paul says that we plant, we water, but we do not cause the growth; God does! God produces growth. Jesus told a parable where a farmer scattered seeds and goes to sleep after doing this. It is not his problem for the seed’s growth, but God’s.

True faith is pressing on though not seeing yet or not knowing yet. The disciples were asked by Jesus to feed the multitude with five loaves and two fish. How it would happen was not their concern, but what Jesus asked them to do, which is their concern, is to give to God what they had. God’s concern is to multiply. The disciples trusted in the Lord; it was Him that they saw. If God tells us to give towards the building no matter the amount is, we don’t tell Him, “Lord, it will not be enough to make a dent on the budget.” Our concern is what did the Lord tell us, as our participation. The rest is God’s problem. If we do what God tells us to do, there will be a harmony.

Our efforts and our prayers are never wasted. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 it says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 2Timothy 3 says, “Continue in the things that you have learned and become convinced of.” Did we learn from the things before in the years that we have been in the Church? Have we been convinced of it? St. Paul says to endure hardships because they are part of the journey. We proclaim the gospel; do the work of an evangelist; and fulfill our ministry. Sometimes, we get affected by circumstances, and we forget to continue what we have learned and have been convinced of. We give up and we stop enduring in the face of hardships and stop proclaiming the good news. We also stop fulfilling our ministry.

A quote says, “What we have proven in the light, do not doubt in the darkness.” During the trying times, don’t doubt God. Our God never changes. He is faithful now and continues to do so. Jacob’s name means deceiver; his named was change to Israel which means one who struggles with God. His name was changed when he wrestled with God. Jacob doubted if God was with him but God was present the whole time he was wrestling. He wrestled the whole night, but only knew that He was wrestling with God in the morning. He thought God was far, but He couldn’t be nearer. He experienced what we call the dark night of the soul.

It is okay to walk in through the valley of the shadow of death. It is okay to struggle in the night. Realize that God is with us the whole time. Do not doubt in the dark what we have proven in the light.

We may end up in pain, injured, but we will get to the breaking of the dawn. We will see the light; morning will break and it is bound to happen for our God is faithful. Do not let go until the dawn breaks and the morning comes. In wrestling with God, do not give up because we grow and we know Him.

The point of the parable is: be steadfast; don’t give up on prayer, faith, commitment and service. Pray without losing heart. Act on our faith without wavering. In due time, in God’s beautiful time, He makes all things good. Persevere; be steadfast; press on; extend ourselves for this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.


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