Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
In one parish where I worked there was a man who loved to drink and get drunk. When he got drunk, his head becomes a performance of who to talk about and against. So he would pick out somebody, a neighbor, the mayor, a public official, a priest, or others, and loudly talk about him or lambast him in the streets. Sometimes, his wife, bigger than he was, would come and literally pick him up as someone would carry a bag of rice on his side. His daughter, in her late teens, had her style. She would calmly ask her father to go home. When he would not move, she would silently stand by his side and wait patiently. Sooner, he would stand up and walk home with her. She was silently, yet actively persistent in taking her father home.
The world has taught us that living is doing something our own way, that if we’re not doing things our way, we allow situations and other people to control us, so they say. Most of the time we think that living is having the command and control of our time, style and abilities. People seem to point out that if we’re not doing anything that can bring us personal satisfaction, rewards and recognition, we are nothing. However, when we think this way, (a) the world becomes a circus of people showing off their abilities – we are faced with boastful and arrogant people; (b) relationships become a situation that one should always be better than the other – life becomes a bitter competition; and (c) authority has to be employed in a way that subordinates should feel its weight – welcome back Scribes and Pharisees!
The corrupt judge that Jesus mentioned tried to control his life and the life of many. He did things his way, arrogantly though, and most likely enriched himself with his corrupt ways. A widow persistently asked for her rights, to the point of irritation. Yes, he could deal with transgressors of the law and with the rich who would buy corrupt decisions, but obviously, he could not handle persistence and meekness, goodness and justice. All that he was doing for the widow was only the minimum: performing his rightful duty and dispensing justice according to the demands of the law, for justice without mercy is inhuman, and justice apart from Human and Divine laws is dead.
There is more to living and doing things our own way, for it is only performing the minimum that we can do. Christian living is doing more than the minimum. To the man who tried to justify himself for complying with all the commandments of God since his childhood, Jesus said: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). In the first reading, Moses did not just set his stretched arms on a support so that the Israelites would win their battle against Amalek. He made ways to keep his arms stretched to the Lord, and “Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset. And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Ex 17:12-13). Surely, there are many difficulties in this world solved by prayer than by our own capacities. We also have many examples in the lives of the Saints. God has always reminded us in various ways that our salvation comes from observance of His will and collaboration with His people as a family. Apart from the people of God, we are likely to lose all that we have learned and received from Him.
So, we learn the following:
– Know who you approach. In many situations in life it is “who you know.” St. Paul exhorts us: “Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2Tm 3:14-15).
– Have faith. To succeed in life and to grow in holiness, it is also “what you know.” St. Jerome said: “For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the Wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
– Be sensitive how you approach who you know. Society teaches us to be presentable to the person we approach for something. In our relationship with the Lord, we need to realize that He is our Creator, Redeemer and Provider. Therefore, we have to approach Him as He is and bring the needs of the world with humility and trust in His greatness and providence.
Should we strive to do more than what is expected of us, God will secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night. He will be quick to answer us. He will see to it that justice is done for us speedily (Lk 18:7-8). The Eucharist is not only an example of the Lord’s well-lived life. It is His life that He gave for our redemption and our celebration for the life of the world. Let us always remind one another in our active and moral witness to His life that the best in life comes not in clinging to our power, capacities and desires, but in releasing and offering all that we hold on to and clinging to the Lord.