29th Sunday Year C
Theme of the week: In our fight against sin and evil, we must be persistent in our faith, hold true to God’s message, and be prepared to stand firm against popular secular values.
There is one word that keeps coming up in this week’s Scripture passages – persistence.
It is not easy being a Christian in this current age – where God’s moral truths are constantly being challenged by a secular and relativist world. However, if we examine history, we will quickly realise that it is not easy being a Christian in any age. In the Second Reading, Paul encourages us to not only hold steadfast to the teachings in the Scripture but boldly proclaim it! He made an important point on the value of Scripture, that “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (Verse 3:16) As Christians, we have a duty to proclaim God’s teachings, even if the message is an unpopular one. Last week, we heard Paul’s persistence in proclaiming the Gospel, even though his evangelisation landed him in jail. Leading off from Paul’s example, this week’s reading challenges us to “proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable” (verse 4:2). Paul presents us this great challenge: that even if we have to swim against the popular tide to proclaim the truth, we must persevere and do so. Today, many teachings of the Church are being rejected by the secular world, branded as “old-fashion”, “controversial” or “politically incorrect”. So successful is the secular world in drowning God’s message that many believers today become too afraid to speak out; or worse, become “unevangelised” by the values of the secular world.
The First Reading tells of the story of the Israelites’ first battle in the Promised Land. In this battle, God acted through Moses to help the Israelites fight against the Amalekites. During the battle, Moses stood on top of a hill and summoned the power of God by raising his hands. While Moses’ hands were raised, the Israelites gained advantage over their enemies. However, every time Moses lowered his hands, the enemies gained the advantage. At a spiritual level, this battle signifies our struggle against sin and evil. Like the Israelites, on our own, we are not able to prevail over sin and evil. It is only through our persistence and the constant invocation of God’s help that we can defeat sin and evil.
On the theme of being persistent, the Gospel too preaches perseverance in prayer through the parable of the Unjust Judge. The unjust judge was not interested in giving the widow her justice, possibly because the poor widow had no money to bribe him. However, after experiencing her persistent pestering, he eventually relented. The passage concluded with a teaching on submitting our petitions to God: if even an unjust judge will accede to the persistent request of a widow, how much more readily will our loving God accede to our dire needs!
18th Century British philosopher and politician Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.” So let us ask ourselves this: am I prepared to take up the challenge and proclaim God’s teachings fearlessly, even if it means preaching against the accepted beliefs of the relativist and secular world? Or do I prefer to just “do nothing”? My brothers and sisters, may God be with you as you contemplate this challenging question.