29th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
October 20, 2013
GOSPEL READING: The Parable of the Persistent Widow.
Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
REFLECTION: God has a Tender Spot
I walked home from school one afternoon. I was in third grade. It was 1996. I was pondering about what we talked about in our religion class as I kicked the pebbles scattered along the rough road. Our teacher, a very young Dominican sister, told us about a Dominican saint – St. Vincent Ferrer. That afternoon, my heavy backpack did not bother me as it usually did. What bothered me was what the sister told us as she concluded our class, “The lesson of our story is this: prayer is man’s strength and God’s weakness.”
What the sister told us lingered in my mind. It affected my entire life. It was a very powerful preaching! As an eight-year-old third grader, I started to pray more often and view prayer as a game between me and God. I approached God as a friend, a playmate. I asked him whatever I wanted, most of the time very simple things. I thought God heard me even if he did not want to listen. He had no choice. It was my moment of strength and his moment of weakness. There were times when God gave me more than what I asked for. I never forgot to thank God, but in thanking Him I would laugh and naughtily chide, “I always win.” I enjoyed my game and God, perhaps, enjoyed playing with me, too.
Things took a more serious turn when during my sixth grade: my family had a vehicular accident. We were driving my mother to her work in the hospital. It was evening twilight. I felt sleepy so I left the backseat to sleep on the lap of my mother who was seated in front. After less than five minutes, there was a loud crash. A car bumped into us. The seat where I had been was totally wrecked. I was five minutes saved from being crushed that evening. I was unharmed. My father took some minor bruises but my mother was complaining of a severe chest pain. We rushed her to the hospital. She was referred to a more advanced hospital in the city. That night I prayed very hard. I knew I was at the losing end. I bargained. I pleaded. My mother’s life was in danger so I prayed, “Lord, grant that I may minister to my parents as your priest one day.” That night, God heard my cry and he listened to me. He granted my prayer and saved my mother. I realized that it is not that I always win but that he gives in and makes a way. This brought me closer to God and made my relationship with him more and more profound. Until now, I say the same prayer every day and everyday he listens to me. “Lord, grant that I may minister to my parents as your priest one day.”
God has a tender spot. The readings for today tell us that the Lord is very attentive to those who call upon Him. Jesus told the parable of the unscrupulous judge who ministered justice to a constantly pleading widow to show us the Father’s attitude to our prayers. If an unscrupulous judge can grant a poor widow’s request because he is constantly pestered, the Lord listens to us and grants our prayers because he is our Father Who dotes on us. God is more humane than the judge. He is, in fact, more humane to us than we to our fellows or even we to ourselves. God is very close to us, closer than we can ever imagine.
I no longer look at prayer as a game between God and me. It is already a very honest conversation between a very faithful friend and me. Like most of us, however, I also have had the experience of feeling empty at prayer. We, Dominicans, gather several times a day to pray. There are times when it feels like prayer is just an ordinary routine of the day – nothing special anymore. There are times, too, when it feels like I am just speaking into the void when I speak to God. Also, whenever I commit a terrible mistake in life, I feel very ashamed to present myself to the Lord and I tend to just shy away. There are many other difficulties to prayer and so St. Luke tells us that the Lord taught us to approach the Father “in our need for constant prayer so that we may never lose heart (cf. v.1).” God listens to our prayers and answers them in his own time. It might not be the time that we want but His time is the perfect time and He is always on time.
God has a tender spot and that spot is reserved for us. Try touching it and you will be touched.
ABOUT THE SHARER:
BRO. ARTUR PANGAN, OP is Dominican Student brother from Camiling, Tarlac.
Ordinary Time, Cycle C, OP Friars, Prayer, Faith, Persistence