Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. There was a judge in a certain town,” he said “who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, ‘I want justice from you against my enemy!’ For a long time he refused, but at last he 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.’”
And the Lord said, “You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?”
Iinvite you to remember a time when you faced a difficult problem – a problem that went on and on. As time went by and there was no solution, did you keep on trying or did you give up?
If you did not give up, what was it that kept you going? You may say, ‘I had no other choice.’ This Gospel story may remind you that you had another reason. Maybe you did not give up because you did not lose heart. And maybe you did not lose heart because you had something to believe in: you may have had faith in God; you may have had faith in people who supported and advised you; and maybe you had faith in yourself under God. If you gave up too soon, maybe it was because you lost heart, and did not have enough faith in God, in others and in yourself.
When I joined the Dominicans fifty years ago Fr. Fergal O’Connor was a member of the community. He was thirty-four years old and suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis. He had a lot of pain; each morning it took him ages to get dressed. A few years later he joined the staff of University College, Dublin and lectured there on political science for many years. He was a man of wisdom and courage. He challenged and inspired a whole generation of students who filled the auditorium in which he lectured. He lived to the age of eighty. The arthritis never left him. He did not talk much about himself, but nobody doubted that he was a man of faith and prayer.
Nora died in August. For three years she battled with cancer; she needed continuous treatment that was demanding and oftentimes exhausting. She was always a woman of prayer and had the support of family and friends. She faced one demanding challenge after another during that time. She never gave up. The recovery she worked so hard for was not granted her. The last great grace she received in the final days of her life took her gently and peacefully into the next life. Her faith and persistence, and the care of a faithful God, brought her safely through life and through death.
Prayer: Psalm 86
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; be gracious to me,
O Lord, for to you do I cry all day long.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication.
In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me.