What a wonderful and challenging confluence of scripture readings!
The selection from the Book of Wisdom is one of a number of scriptural
meditations on God’s fundamental act of salvation in the Hebrew
bible, the Exodus. God saved lowly Israel. God saves even today!
That’s the basic proclamation.
The gospel passage from Luke quite consciously addresses “the
necessity for them [the disciples] to pray always without becoming
weary.” It’s the conclusion of the piece which echoes
that message: “Will not God then secure the rights of his
chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to
Seems to me that these scriptures raise the exceedingly gnarly issues
of petitionary prayer, divine timing, and the plight of the lowly.
For example, the joy of Israel at their deliverance, as portrayed
in the first reading, stands in contrast to the comment in Exodus
12:40 that the people had remained in Egypt 430 years before their
Is God slow to answer prayer? Yes. Is justice done for the lowly
speedily? No. As I see it, this all points to one major challenge
for believers: Why? My answer? I don’t know. I don’t
Seems to me further that typical responses include things like:
“God doesn’t answer prayers that would be bad for you.”
Or, “Maybe you don’t pray hard enough.” Or, “Well,
it’s up to us to make some things happen for the lowly. We’ve
not been engaged in working for justice for the lowly enough.”
Here’s what I have come to at this point in my life. Making
petitions to God first of all sets me (and the Church) before the
Mystery. There, I cannot control any outcomes, for good or for ill.
God is not a rich uncle who responds to my every need or my every
whim. So, offering petitions “without ceasing” is an
act of trust and hope and endurance. And, I’m not so good
Second, petitionary prayer is essentially an act of praise to the
God of salvation and liberation. God saves! “You can do this,
not me!” This seems like praise to me.
Lastly, sometimes I am able to make this connection: Inasmuch as
I am frustrated by the slowness of God to act “justly”
on my behalf or for those for whom I pray, perhaps they are even
more frustrated. I get a glimpse of sharing their burdens of longing,
hoping, and enduring.
So, that’s a bit of my story as a pilgrim on the way. How