Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 21, 2007
Scriptural Reference: Exodus 17:8-13; Luke 18:1-8
I know that today’s reading from Exodus as well as the Gospel passage from St. Luke are about prayer. They are also about perseverance; it struck me how the two go together, how one depends on the other. You need to be able to persevere in prayer for prayer to have its full effect in your life. You need prayer to persevere – to persevere in prayer to begin with, to persevere in your spiritual life, in your life in the image and likeness of Jesus himself.
So many people give prayer a try, turn to prayer at a difficult time in life, depend on the prayers of others for special help and without instant results, claim it just does not work. Is there anything truly worthwhile in life that is instantaneous or automatic? I dare say nothing. Even something good that seems to fall from heaven needs to be cared for, nurtured, developed, protected, managed. If you have a good marriage, if you have good family relationships, if you have good friends, if your faith and Church are a real part of your life, if your profession, even hobbies or talents and skills are satisfying blessings, you have been attentive to them all or any one, and have persevered in keeping them in the right direction, even through difficult times. Perseverance is a quality or virtue you never let go of. And I am sure that you do not regret it!
So many things in today’s world are instantly available, not always for our good. Many of us know that some quick compulsive decisions can leave us with unpayable debts, irreparable damage to an important relationship, a bad memory that fosters years of guilt, sleepless nights of regret.
Perseverance, on the other hand, in areas that seem to be very slow moving, can lead to stable virtue, inner peace, true intimacy with God and others, success that may not be achieved in the media but is even more significant because we know what we have achieved is good, is meant by God, is basically what we were meant to achieve in life. Our vocation – the fulfillment of God’s will.
The older I get, the more I look up to my parents as models of true success, both from humble, faith-filled families, both only had a few years of grammar school – most of it in French – both spoke English with heavy accents, worked hard in the mills and at home. But the ordinary things they did, they did very well, lived totally for family, friends and the Church. They never missed Mass, even if it meant at 5:00 AM before going to the mill on a Holy Day of Obligation. They prayed every day, especially the rosary. They did not even seem to be distracted by the fact that others had more money and possessions and went on vacations. None of that seemed to matter because their priorities were enough to keep them loving and satisfied.
Wouldn’t it seem that so many of us who have much more, who give much more to our kids, would all be so much happier?
When we eliminate prayer and perseverance, when we depend only on instant gratification, we pull the plug on the elements that make for true peace. Shortcuts do not work in the things that really matter in life. May we be on the road of prayer and perseverance – the only road where God’s will is fulfilled!