Engaging the Gospel – Luke 18:1-8

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C): Gospel – Luke 18:1-8

Today’s Gospel “is centered on one of the qualities of prayer: it is necessary to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith” (Catechism paragraph 2613).

Through the parable of the widow, whose sheer persistence wears down the dishonest judge, Jesus encourages us to keep praying, no matter what difficulties we have in prayer:

When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? (2732)

We tend to get distracted (2729), or lazy (2733), or even discouraged if we don’t get the results we want.

What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? Or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? (2735)

In fact,

In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father Who is good beyond measure, with His Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit…Thus the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with Him (2565).

If we understand prayer in that light, and not only as a recitation of words, it is possible to pray always.

As St. Therese of Lisieux observed,

for me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven; it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy (quoted in 2558).

Question for reflection: In what ways have I witnessed the power of prayer?

Simplicity of Prayer

Do we sometimes complicate prayer, thinking that unless we’re reciting traditional formulas, we’re not “really” praying? But in truth, prayer is beautifully simple, as easy and natural as speaking with our family and friends.

For prayer is our conversing with God, as our prayer partners – the saints – have described it.

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God, or the requesting of good things from God,” St. John Damascene teaches us (quoted in Catechism paragraph 2559).

St. Teresa of Avila emphasizes the intimacy of our relationship with God, viewing prayer as “nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him Who we know loves us” (quoted in 2709).

St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, reminds us that prayer doesn’t even require words: “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (quoted in 2558).

While our learned prayers and devotions offer us wonderful ways of engaging the Lord, let us also cultivate the habit of turning to Him throughout the day, whether to thank Him for a particular blessing, ask for His help in difficulty, or tell Him hello, just because.

Parents can encourage children to do likewise, and in the evening, family members may share one aspect of their prayer that day.