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Homily for Twenty-ninth Sunday C

14 Oct 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

The widow the the judgeIn many parts of the Church in Africa, the word “attack” has become very common. Many see themselves as been under attack too often, but that is not a big deal. The big deal is, what do we do when we feel attacked? Or better still, where do we run to for help? In our responsorial Psalm, this morning, the Psalmist says, I lift my eyes to the mountains: from where shall come my help? My help shall come from the Lord who made heaven and earth. That was exactly what Moses did when they were attacked.

The Amalekites attacked the people of Israel at Rephidim on their way from Egypt’s land, their land of slavery, to the land of freedom. God had freed Israel’s people from the hands of the Egyptians, but the Amalekites and many other nations that fought the Israelites were like obstacles on their journey.  They were distractions, stumbling blocks, and agents of backwardness. They tried to stop the Israelites from continuing their journey with great hope; they tried to frustrate their faith. That is exactly what is happening in our world today; in our everyday Christian lives, we meet with these agents of distractions, obstacles, and stumbling blocks. They try to stop our journey of faith, they try to frustrate our faith in God, they try to make us turn against each other and God, and they try to make us hide the light of God in us.

The Amalekites fought the Israelites, they tried to stop them, but they may not be our problem today. The obstacles and distractions on our way to the Father come in different ways and forms. They may come in the forms of sicknesses, stagnation in our businesses or our chosen careers, frustrations, and many other ways the devil may want to stop our journey to the promised land. But Moses shows the way forward today in our first reading.
When they were attacked, they did not run away; they did not give up. We, too, must not run away nor give up. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Pick out men for yourself, and tomorrow morning march out to engage Amalek. I, meanwhile, will stand on the hilltop, the staff of God in my hand. Wonderful!

Whenever we are attacked, there is a place to run to, the hilltop. This hilltop is not a place we go empty-handed, carnally, or with faithlessness. It is not the kind of hills or mountains many Christians climb today to pray. Remember what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob, that true worshipers will no longer worship on this mountain nor in Jerusalem but will worship in spirit and truth (Jn.4:21-23).  Moses went up the hill with the staff of God in his hand, and the staff is a symbol of authority. Moses lifted his hands with the staff of God; he prayed with faith and with authority. As long as his hands were raised, the Israelites had an advantage over the Amalekites. But when Moses grew tired and lowered his hands, the battle turned against the Israelites. That is a strong message to every Christian, never to grow tired of lifting our hands in prayer. Pray always, no stop. That is the lesson Jesus teaches in his parable this morning.

persistenceJesus told a parable about a particular judge who neither fears God nor respects man. In the same town with this arrogant judge was a widow who wanted justice from the judge against her enemy. For a long time, the judge refused this widow his attention. Still, after much persistence, the judge said to himself, Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me, I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.  The endurance and persistence of the widow broke the resistance of the arrogant judge, and Jesus says, will God not do much more for his children who cry to him with faith always? Pray, therefore no matter the situation, do not give up and do not run away. The God of Israel is still on the throne.

Prayer is an act of worship and not like the fire extinguisher needed only when there is a fire outbreak. We must learn to pray in good and in bad times, in season and out of season. We must learn to offer prayers of thanksgiving, praise, and adoration. Praise God at all times and not only offer prayers of petitions. St. Paul tells us in our second reading to keep what [we] have been taught and know to be true; remember who your teachers were, and how, ever since you were a child, you have known the holy scriptures-from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.