Pray Earnestly, Move Heaven and Earth

First Reading: ((Ex 17: 8-13): The Amalekites were defeated
Second Reading: (2 Tim 3: 14- 4:2): The Word is a guide to our lives
Gospel: (Lk 18: 1-8): The parable of the Unjust Judge and the Widow
Chinese Classics:
-“The tree wants to be still but the wind will not stop; the son wishes to take care of his parents but they are no longer there.” (1)

In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, 'Grant me justice against my opponent.' For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, 'Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.' And the Lord said, 'Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?’ ”(Lk 18: 2- 7)

The above Scripture passage is the conclusion of a parable Jesus spoke about perseverance in prayer and not becoming disheartened. If we pray always and continuously, God will surely listen to us. If we pray with sincerity, God will come to our assistance.

The parable says that there was once a judge who did not worship any god or have regard for anyone. He had power and prestige, was totally self-centred and was beholden to no one. In those feudal times this kind of person would consider himself as the Law, the Justice itself. He relied on his own power and sought only what was advantageous to himself. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This famous adage from political science was realized fully in this man.

In this kind of milieu a widow went to the judge to redress a grievance. Naturally the judge paid no attention to her and would not accept her complaint. She was in no position to curry favor, she could not afford material gifts and could not offer the judge any benefits.

Although the widow was rejected and treated with such coldness, she was not in the least discouraged. She appeared every day and pleaded every day. She continued her efforts steadily and never became disheartened. She was even more persistent than the heroine Qui Ju in the movie “Qui Ju resorts to Litigation.” With no letup she begged the judge to investigate the real situation and accord her justice. The judge who neither feared gods nor respected human beings, had little regard for the law or moral principles and had no sympathy for her. But he finally was so bothered by her persistence that he agreed to do what she demanded of him.

Jesus was very clear about the conclusion of this story. If the judge, so lacking in mercy, kindness or justice and absolutely had no regard for anything, eventually agreed to help her win her case, how much more so our merciful Lord, our kind Father who loves us so much! How could our heavenly Father do any less for His children who go to Him
with complete trust and plead for help?

At times we may want to ask: Why does God so often seem to take so long to answer our prayers? Why do our prayers seem to produce no immediate effect? After we have prayed with great earnestness, why must we continue to wait and wait until we are worn out, become anxious and worried and are on the verge of despondency and despair? What is God doing? What is God waiting for?

One of the most important reasons God waits to answer us is because he wishes to increase the strength and depth of our faith-life. God wants us to have even greater trust and dependence on Him, and appreciation of all the gifts God gives us, and help us increase our appreciation of the gifts God wants to bestow on us.

We often do not know how to appreciate gifts we receive without any effort on our part. Sometimes we do not know how to value our families, parents, friends, society, our country. There are many people who take for granted the gifts of Nature, the good intentions of friends, opportunities for work, education. We take these precious gifts as a matter of course. Even benefits that others cannot obtain, we sometimes treat as worthless.

We do not fully understand how to appreciate our blessings and all the valuable treasures we possess. We do not regard them as God's blessings. We do not even value the good health we enjoy today. That is why we may hear this observation: “Health is only appreciated when it is lost.” Or, only when our parents have passed away do we suddenly realize we have lost them forever. “The tree wants to be still but the wind will not stop; the son wishes to take care of his parents but they are no longer there,” (1)

Continuous prayer and entreaty gradually increases our sense of hope and reliance on God. If in the end we obtain all that we had asked for we naturally appreciate it all the more. Perhaps the longer we pray the greater is our appreciation of God's gifts. .

The measure of our appreciation of anything usually depends on the amount of time and effort we have invested in it; the greater the effort the greater the appreciation. Many people think that the strength and depth of parent's love for their children is much greater than children's love for parents if for no other reason than because parents invest so much love and effort for their children. Many parents sacrifice nearly everything, giving all that they have and are, for their children.

God's love for us is so great and deep, without comparison. It is indescribable. But our love for God is so shallow and weak. Whether we repay God much or little, whether our relationship with God is close or distant, it awaits us to prove our love by our deeds. The prayer that we offer to God is an indication of how we reflect a relationship with God.

Let us continue to pray with great earnestness, investing greater energy and time into our efforts at prayer and the closest possible relationship with God. As to the rest, God will grant it to us.