Homily 29th Sunday Year C: Fr. Michael Udoekpo
· Exod 17:18-13;
· Ps 121:1-8;
· 2 Tim 3:14–4:2
· Luke 18:1-8
The Staff of God is with Us
God is with us in our life’s journeys, in many ways. In the prayer we consistently pray; in the staff (matah) our leaders consistently raised, as they lead us. God is with us in the bread and wine we share. God is with us in the Word of God, the scripture we read, hear, preach, meditate upon, and share (2 Tim 3:14–4:2), day in day out.
In the first reading of today (Exod 17:8-13) as the Israelite were physically battling their way to the promise land, God was spiritually fighting for them, against the Amelekites in Raphidim. An interesting saving story! While Joshua physically led the charge, Moses stood on the top of the mountain with the symbolic staff of God, in a raising posture, supported by Aaron and Hur. By the way, a Staff in this context as we say in the crossing of the read sea (Exod 15), is a symbol of God’s saving power, God’s presence, his love, his sovereignty, and saving power. What a divine drama here. In this battle, as long as Moses raises the staff, and of course with the support of others, Aaron and Hur, the Israelite prevails in the battle. Each time Moses lowers his hands perhaps because of human fatigue, the Amelekites prevails. One of the lessons here is that we can only prevails in whatever we do when we call upon the name of the Lord; when we not only trust in God and pray to him, but when we do it selflessly, supporting one another.
We learn this also from Jesus. In Jesus’s days, as he set out on his missionary journeys to Jerusalem, he taught his disciples many things (Luke 9:51), especially charity, modesty, forgiveness, inclusiveness, and prayer (Luke 11) which must be done persistently as highlighted in today’s gospel parable of a poor widow who persistently ask the unjust judge for justice (Luke 18:1-8).
But how do we pray? What tools do we use in prayer? For Paul’s 2 Letter to Timothy, scripture, the Bible, the Word of God, the passages of the Bible, the Psalms, like today’s Psalm, “Our Help is in the name of the Lord” (Ps 121), the teachings of the Torah, the messages of the Prophets, the gospels, the Pauline Writings, the Letters, the Epistles, are useful instruments for Christian prayer. This is why Paul says, to Timothy, “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (cf. 1 Pet 1:25; 2 Pet 1:19-21; Isa 40:8 and Verbum Domini, n.1).
Granted that we do have our own religious, and socio-political challenges and battle to win: the poverty, the corruption in nation’s capitals, the illnesses, the threats of war and terrorism; Prayer, rooted in knowledge of the scriptures, is the key. Prayer for one’s self and one’s neighbors. Trusting in God’s presence through the staff of our leaders is another key. And this trust as, Paul charges, must be consistent- inspiring us to imitate not only Moses, but the poor widow of the gospel. If the unjust judge in the gospel could listen to the persistent widow, and blessed Israel through Moses’ persistent staffing, our God who is just and righteous, certainly, would listen to each and every one us, whenever we persistently lead with the fear of the Lord, and truly call upon him in prayers! The Staff of God is with Us!