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Ordinary Time 29 (C)
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Readings for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

1. Exodus 17, 8-13

  • It sounds much too instrumental as I listen.  I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.  And as long as Moses kept his hands raised  What can we learn from this for our own empirical times?
  • And what is the setting?  Tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle.  Israel, like the early followers of Muhammad, confirms the sovereignty of its God in battle.  What can our assembly find redeeming in this?  Or perhaps they may draw the wrong lesson, if they are enthralled with the worship of a nation god.
  • Amalek came and provoked the situation.  And so Moses does not have to consult God, for the people has no choice but to defend itself.  Pick out certain men and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek.  I speak it decisively, especially Moses’ promise to stand on the hill.
  • As long as Moses kept his hands raised.  Moses and the troops are as one, and so I read.  Raised hands mean a raised and taut voice.  When he let his hands rest, so do I relax my own voice. 
  • Today’s Gospel passage talks about insistence.  Praying and achieving God’s promise are steady and plodding work.  Moses climbed the hill, hands raised, hands tired, hands steady till sunset.  All the more reason for me to grind my way through the first reading, pausing frequently as I go. 
  • Aaron and Hur supported his hands.  It should sound like hard work.
  • Climax: His hands remained steady until sunset.
  • Message for our assembly: When we give God the glory in front of the media, during our moments of earthly triumph, let us remember that God’s ways are not our ways.  Lincoln’s words come to mind: “As God gives us to see the right.”
  • I will challenge myself: To read neither in an unengaged nor credulous way, but with the same faith in which Israel has handed down this story.  Let the church engage, too, praying and willing ancient Israel on to victory.

2. II Timothy 3, 14 to 4, 2

  • First I hear of a learning process.  Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed.  I notice that the apostle did not say “understood.”  And I don’t think he meant decrees or catechisms.  This is not far from the attitude we demand of the professions in our own society. 
  • You know from whom you learned it.  He means an apprenticeship, and not in a classroom either, but on the footpaths of Asia Minor and Greece.  Let me take my time as I describe the process and the subject matter.
  • The sacred scriptures are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  In other words, they convey wisdom and lead to achievement of salvation, if we read and ingest them in faith.  Take my time so that the whole meaning can be unwound in the minds of my listeners.
  • All scripture is inspired by God and is useful.  Again the goal is not just to memorize phrases for their own sake, but to put them to use.  Make it flow easily and naturally from hearing the word to carrying out every good work.
  • Now we move from learning to speaking.  Proclaim the word; be persistent.  And the disciple is not alone.  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus.  The references to judging, appearing and kingly power mean the Christ in glory who is being made manifest, the Christ in whom we also believe today.
  • Encourage through all patience and teaching.  If the ministry sounds in my mouth like a tireless whirlwind of activity, then I have conveyed the right meaning.
  • Climax: I charge you: proclaim the word.  This passage was once read during the masses in honor of holy teachers of the church.
  • The message for our assembly: To what extent is our own maturity in the faith due to the example of noble men and women around us?
  • I will challenge myself: To give the right solemnity to this moment when the elder apostle hands on the teaching function to his disciple.

Gospel. Luke 18, 1-8

  • The necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.  The theme runs through the Gospel of Luke and other parts of scripture.  I interpret the parable at the beginning, just as I will at the end.
  • There was a judge in a certain town and a widow in that town.  I note that neither seems to be deeply religious.  The judge who neither feared nor respected might be a kind of party boss who answers to no one.  That is not the point.  Jesus can read the signs of the times from everyday events; can we?
  • Render a just decision for me against my adversary.  Do I say it loudly or softly?  Well, she is not knocking on the door.  She may be in the marketplace, waiting all day for him to pass by.  I don’t think she will shout and embarrass him, but catch him alone.  He is putting off his judgment, just as a politician might try to avoid an unpopular vote.  Let me maintain the tension for a while.
  • Neither does the judge want a public showdown where she finally comes and strikes me.  I will say it in the sense of resolution.
  • Pay attention to the dishonest judge.  So Jesus will compare his Father with this atheist?  He will see to it that justice is done speedily.
  • When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?  It sounds a little like the rescue teams looking for survivors in the rubble.  Will we hold out?  But this is our savior coming, and he challenges us.  Will we come through?
  • Climax: Will he be slow to answer them?  I just happen to be listening to some sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr., and I know he’ll help me find the right voice.
  • Message for our assembly: Are we persistent in asking for the Spirit, for the Kingdom, for wisdom, for whatever is good and builds the church?  Last week many of us observed with devotion some unusual reflections on an altar cloth.  Do we pay as much attention to our spiritual development?
  • I will challenge myself: To challenge the assembly in their prayer growth.

From Word to Eucharist: How easy it is to rise and join the procession today.  And yet how far we have traveled since the last time.  Have we been persistent?  Have we grown into a deeper love for the word of God and the sacrament of unity?

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