Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises. He arrived with his usual props. A cigar, a cane and a top hat accompanied Churchill wherever he went. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. With unmatched dignity, he settled the crowd and stood confident before his admirers. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Churchill gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill's voice as he shouted, "Never give up!"
Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated: "Never give up!" His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the platform. His commencement address was finished.
Persistence, at least as presented in the first reading and gospel, is the attitude of one seeking justice. The widow’s faith in this Sundays’ gospel is a response to a God who delivers the just. By remaining persistent in her petition for justice, the widow exemplifies the steadfast faith sought by the “Son of Man.” Both justice and faith have to do with our relationship with God. Justice sets us in right relationship with God and others; faith impels us to do whatever is necessary to establish that right relationship. Moreover, when we are in right relationship with God, we are cooperating with Gods plan of salvation. Thus, by impelling us toward justice, faith is ultimately seeking salvation. Persistence in prayer then, is an expression of our own persistent striving for salvation. Whether the response to our own prayer is delayed or speedily given, faith and hope uphold our efforts to “pray always,” Persistence requires discipline, and it rests on the hope that the desired outcome of our efforts will be achieved. For example, we are persistent in exercise routines, athletic training, and musical practice. So it is with prayer; we persist because of our hope that God will hear us. This hope, nonetheless, is not merely future-oriented, concerned only with receiving what we request. This hope rests on the conviction of our steadfast relationship to the God, who has always been faithful and who always listen to our prayer. If faith seeks justice and salvation, then hope spawns the confidence that our prayer will be heard and one day we will share in everlasting life.
I know many people share with me in the frustrations in their prayer lives when we feel our prayers are not be answered but as I come to the realization and share with other people is that sometimes we don’t want to hear the answers the Lord has given us or we become impatient because the Lord does take his time in answering prayer. I guess it’s hard in our society to sit and wait for a response since everything in our society country is based on instant. We go to a drive-thru and we get food in minutes. We can get a cup of coffee in minutes. We can surf the net in no time but as we hear with God a thousands years is just a day in his eyes.
When I feel like my prayers are not being answered I just think of St. Monica who was known to have prayed for 30 years for the conversion of her son Augustine and also her husband and it seems that was her goal and once that occurred she was ready to go home to the Lord as is stated in the confessions of St. Augustine when he was at his mother’s bedside, “My mother said: Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have been renounced earthly happiness to be his servant. So what am I doing here?”
I would like to switch gears and now focus on this particular Sunday that is being celebrated in the universal church which is “World Mission Sunday.” World Mission Sunday is a Eucharistic celebration for all the missions of the world. The offerings collected on World Mission Sunday—are destined for a common fund of solidarity distributed in the Pope’s name, by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, among the Missions and missionaries of the world.”
I had the blessings to have sat beside some of this men and women who we are raising money for as I was studying for the priesthood in the eternal city. These religious brothers who most of them were going on for the priesthood and these sisters do such wonderful work in their respective countries. They work in parishes, teach children in schools, serve the poor in their area, and the list goes on but the people they serve are not able to support these programs that our offered. First of all these men and women need to support themselves and their community. It does cost money to provide buildings, utilities, food, and yes these men and women that were preparing to go back to their countries needed to be educated so that they would be able to pass on the faith and again that costs money.
Pope Benedict writing about World Mission Sunday says in his letter, “All the Churches for all the world’: This is the theme chosen for World Mission Sunday 2007. It invites the local churches of every continent to a shared awareness of the urgent need to relaunch missionary action in the face of the many serious challenges of our time. The conditions in which humanity lives have of course changed and in recent decades, especially since the Second Vatican Council, a great effort has been made to spread the Gospel. However much still remains to be done in order to respond to the missionary call which the Lord never tires of addressing to every one of the baptized...however, let it not be forgotten that the first and priority contribution that we are called to offer to the missionary action of the Church is prayer.”
My dear brothers and sisters as the second collection will be taken for this worthy cause just keep in mind that every contribution does help in this cause of evangelization and if you could be as generous as possible it would be great appreciated especially by those same men and women that I sat alongside with and to the people they serve. Also to keep in mind as we hear about being persistent in prayer let us as our Holy Father calls for to pray especially for the needs of our brothers and sisters in countries that are less fortunate so that they too can evangelize and provide for the services that are needed.
Living Liturgy, p. 230