Saturday of Week 32 in Ordinary Time
3 Jn 5-8
“Now will not God see justice done to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night…?”
One of my favourite movies of all time is Shawshank Redemption. There is a scene in the movie about persistence and perseverance — the protagonist, Andy Dufresne, wants to expand the prison library and writes to the state senate requesting for funds and books, despite being advised that his efforts would probably come to naught. He writes anyway, a letter a week for six years until the state sends him a one-off contribution of $200. Not satisfied, Andy now writes two letters a week until the state senate finally caves and provides an annual fund of $500, “just to shut him up”.
There are two things here that are parallel to today’s reading. The first is, of course, the persistence in Andy’s letter-writing and the widow’s petitioning to the corrupt judge. There was no let-up in both characters’ demands and eventually, their perseverance paid off when they achieved what they had set out to do. As indicated in today’s Gospel right at the start, Jesus highlighted the necessity to “pray always without becoming weary”. Weary in a sense of not just physically fatigued by prayer, but disheartened in spirit and faith. I think oftentimes, especially when our prayers go unanswered, we wonder if God really is there, does He not care for us? I have been guilty of this, and during those times when I am asking God for an answer, I realise I am asking it on my time and my terms. I forget that it is His will and not mine, that will be done. Upon reflection and hindsight of course I see this, but in that moment, I forget that sometimes it is the ‘journey’ rather than the ‘destination’ – i.e. the answered prayer – that is more important. What will praying persistently do for me as opposed to having a prayer instantly answered? In my prayer journey, how will it mould me as a person and shape my faith? Will I understand what it takes to pray unceasingly and faithfully? Possibly. As soon as I can step out of my noisy headspace and find a moment of clarity to gather myself, that is where I will probably find God, waiting to talk to me.
And what would He say to me? I think therein lies the second parallel between the two stories — that I am not too small or insignificant to Him for my prayers to be heard. Andy Dufresne was a prisoner serving a life sentence. The widow was considered one of society’s most vulnerable members during that time in history. They both had to face domineering figures of authority that were corrupt and unlikely to give them the time of day. If they are seemingly the ‘lowest of the lows’ and still have their requests answered, then why do we fret about whether God will hear us and answer our prayers? I do still go through some self-disparaging moments like these, where I feel that I do not measure up or done enough for my faith to deserve my answered prayers. I feel as though all my blessings might be temporary because of my past shortcomings. But what awful negative thinking that is! God’s blessings and graces are infinitely bigger than I can ever fathom; why should I even think about limiting what He can do for me? I am loved, we are all loved by God. I should know that if I ask or seek, I will find and He will answer, because He loves me. “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?” (Luke 11:11). God would say to me, “You are my child. And you are loved.” He would remind me that every hair on my head has been counted (Luke 12:7) that I should not worry about whether I have been forgotten. And whatever troubles that may come, His unfailing love will never be shaken (Isaiah 54:10).
The Gospel reading today closes with a question, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” God is so ready to do battle for us and comfort us, all He is asking for is a little faith in His unending and limitless love. With faith, we will find the strength to persevere. With faith, we are not insignificant.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord Almighty, we are but tiny grains of sand that make up this desert land. But while a desert is barren and dry, let not our spirits be so. Instead, we pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us to overflowing that we may always rest safe and secure in Your love.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for seeing us when we deem ourselves too little to be seen, for hearing us when all other voices drown us out, for counting us worthy when even we see ourselves as insignificant.