Pastoral Corner | October 20

Posted on October 17, 2019 in: General News

Pastoral Corner | October 20


I edited the following commentary from the NCR (National Catholic Reporter), October 2019 written by Sister Mary M. McGlone. It is a good explanation of the Scriptures for this weekend.

“Today’s first reading from Exodus is intriguing. The Israelites were attacked by the Amalekites, so Moses tells Joshua to pick good fighters and send them into battle. For his part, Moses will be watching over them, holding up his powerful staff. As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel stayed ahead, but if he took a rest, the enemy began to win the battle. This sounds like bartering with God: ‘If I do this— God must do that.’ No interpersonal relationship—just payment for action.

“At first glance, the theology of prayer doesn't seem to get much better with today's Gospel. Jesus' story about the widow and the self-centered judge appears to teach that if your first request isn't answered, you should badger heaven relentlessly until God surrenders — in other words, persist until your self-interest overcomes God's apathy. These interpretations seem pretty far from Jesus' way of praying and his talk about the Father. We need alternative approaches if these readings are to lead us beyond ‘magic’ or a ‘bartering’ approach to prayer.

“Paul's advice to Timothy gives us a good starting point. Paul tells his young protégé, ‘Remain faithful to what you have learned and believe because you know from whom you learned it.’ Paul reminds Timothy that prayerful meditation on the Scriptures leads to wisdom and equips us for every good work. We might take Paul's words as an invitation to recall the history of our life of prayer — our interactive relationship with God. Who taught you to pray? How did they explain the purpose of prayer? How has your image of God changed as you have grown? How has your way of praying changed as you have matured? How would you compare your prayer to your interactions with the people who are closest to you?

“Back to the first reading: Leaving the carnage aside, rather than think that Moses' raised arms forced God to give Israel the advantage, we might understand Moses as a representation of God's ever-loving, watchful care. Moses did not do the fighting for Israel, he simply watched over them, keeping them aware of his attention to them. When he grew weaker from standing there— his disciples made sure that the people didn't lose sight of his ongoing presence. This would change the message from a story of magic to one of moral support.

“Now—looking to the widow (in Hebrew ‘widow’ means ‘one unable to talk) and the narcissistic judge. Suppose that we look at the woman as a disciple who is not only deprived of her rights, but who chooses to act out of evangelical love. She approaches this judge who, worse than an enemy, has chosen to remain indifferent to others and their needs

“The widow's persistence, her unstoppable attempts to wake him up to what he ought to do, are a way of preaching conversion. She is demanding the sort of relationships that characterize the reign of God. Paul reminds us that we grow in prayer in the same way that we mature in relationships. Moving beyond childish magic or attempted coercion, we are invited to look at prayer, be it private or communal, as the deepest expression of our evergrowing relationship with God.”

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