Our readings this week are again about prayer—about the persistence of prayer. What are we supported by in those times when things are difficult? Today, the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we hear the story from Exodus about the Israelites and the threat of Amalek. Aaron and Hur support Moses’ arms, keeping them up and raised in order to win the battle. As long as his hands were raised, they would win. The image that comes to mind is that as long as we have our hands raised together to God, we “win” too—in all the ways that are most important—in our spirits, in faith and in our hearts in order to sustain us when tested.
In the Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy, we hear the advice and encouragement by St. Paul to support Timothy in the difficulties of his ministry. In the Gospel Jesus reminds His Disciples to pray always; and He tells them the parable of the persistent widow—the pestering widow—persistent as a child wanting something from a parent. Do you remember the pleas, please, pleeeese from your children? Unlike the judge who gives in because he doesn’t want to be bothered anymore by the widow, God loves the persistence of His children. We are to pray always!
The point of the First Reading and in the Gospel is that we may become weary in prayer—and that persistence in prayer is needed. So, what is it that keeps us raised up, encourages us, supports and helps us to be persistent in our pursuits? Like Moses, we have the support of Community in “raising our hands” to God. Our prayers are not just isolated, single person prayers. We join our voices to each other and heaven in our communal prayer.
Today in the Psalm (#121) we sing: “Our help is from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” This is a psalm to keep (persistently) in your heart, in your mind and on your tongue! At the end of the Gospel story Jesus asks that when He returns, “will He find faith on earth?” I believe He will find it—in the faithful at prayer. We all know the old saying “God helps those who help themselves” but Scripture tells us that God loves those who help others who need help and service. So how are we lifted up and supported when life is tough? We pray persistently for others and for ourselves; we commit to and persist and persevere in serving the Body of Christ—knowing we have the support of Scripture, Community and the Eucharist to accomplish this task.
Keep Praying! Keep singing!