29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Psalm 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
October 16, 2016
The Israelites had to defend themselves from an attack by Amalek. Joshua leads the battle but Moses is instrumental in the success of the battle.
Moses does not physically engage in the battle. Do you remember what Moses did when it was time for the Israelites to cross the Red Sea? He raised his staff and extended it over the waters. By God’s power the Red Sea parted.
Now, as the Israelites must defend themselves from Amalek’s attack, Moses again raises his staff. As long as he does, “Israel had the better of the fight.” But Moses grew weary but whenever he “let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.”
Moses needed to persevere for the Israelites to succeed but he could not do it alone. Aaron and Hur “supported his hands.”
We are not in battle against Amalek today but we continue to battle against evil. How often do we grow weary? How often dDo we fail in our battle against temptation?
How are we to persevere?
Three things come to mind for me here and they are all found in today’s readings.
I’ve already mentioned how Moses grew weary. He needed the help of Aaron and Hur. If we are to persevere against evil, we need to help and support each other. That’s #1.
#2 is found in the second reading. Paul wrote to Timothy to offer him support and encouragement (further examples of people in the Bible helping each other). As Paul writes where does he direct Timothy to? Sacred Scripture. If we are to persevere against evil, we need to know our Bible. As Paul writes, it is “wisdom for salvation….inspired by God…useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” Sacred Scripture equips us “for every good work.”
Sacred Scripture is, of course, the Bible. As Catholics, we have a reputation for not knowing the Bible. If I asked how many of you have a Bible at home, probably the majority would say yes. If I asked how many had read the Bible recently, let alone knew where it was in their house, I might guess not so many would raise their hands.
The good news is that does not we mean we are ignorant of the Bible. Every time we celebrate Mass on Sunday we hear readings and a psalm from the Bible. Then the homily should help us open our ears to what the Bible is trying to tell us today.
But the readings are not the only reference to scripture at Mass. Some of our prayers at Mass are direct quotes from the Bible. Part of the purpose when we started using the new translations five years ago was to make the Bible verses more recognizable. For instance, we used to sing “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of power and might.” Now we sing “Lord God of hosts.” If you read the Old Testament you will find the phrase “Lord God of hosts” several times.
Related to the Bible, we have a resource that Paul did not have, 2,000 year of church history. Throughout the 2,000 years that have passed since Jesus rose, the world has changed. Our Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit to apply the Scriptures to our lives today.
Take what you learn here at Mass and read the Bible on your own to know it more fully.
So, in our battle against evil, #1 is supporting each other. #2 is knowing the Bible. #3 is found in today’s gospel reading. We need to “pray always.”
Remember Moses? When he let his arms rest, the Israelites began to fall in battle. We need to pray always but how? We need to sleep. We need to work. We need to eat. How can we pray always?
When we think of prayer we probably most often think of reciting the prayers we have memorized, praying the Rosary, or another devotion. We pray at Mass. We pray when we offer God our list of needs. We might pray a lot but how do we “pray always”?
To understand what it means to “pray always” we need to look at prayer a little differently. Everything I mentioned in the list is a way of praying but ultimately we pray to have a relationship with God.
To pray always is to always be in relationship with God. How much do you think about God throughout the day? Maybe we can’t stop and pray much throughout the day but when something bothers us how about a Hail Mary? Before we respond to something someone has said or done that upsets us, how about a quick prayer to ask God to give us the right words or action to respond with?
We struggle with evil. We need to support each other. We need to know the Bible. We need to pray. Then God can deliver us from evil.