November 23, 2022
by David Crawford
Creighton University - Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 505

Revelation 15:1-4
Psalm 98:1, 2-3AB, 7-8, 9
Luke 21:12-19

Praying Ordinary Time


Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Prayer in the days before Advent

Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.  (Luke 21:14-15)

In today’s reading from the Gospel, Jesus warns his followers of the extreme difficulties to be faced – persecution and prosecution by authorities along with betrayal and rejection by family and friends. We are encouraged, though, with the assurance that our words and actions will be Divinely guided in these instances.  I have heard several sermons and Bible study discussions about how this approach – walking in without a fully formed plan of defense and trusting the Spirit to provide what is needed in a hostile situation – requires a great deal of faith and humility, and I am sure that is true. 

So how do we faithfully not prepare a defense?  While Jesus says not to prepare our defense beforehand, there is preparation to be done.  Think of how jazz musicians prepare.  Good jazz musicians work very hard at what they do, and a beautifully improvised solo is the result of many hours of study and practice.  Jazz artists build a repertoire of new songs as well as old standards.  They study chord structures, Dorian and Mixolydian modes, harmonic and melodic minors.  They practice daily to become intimately familiar with these foundational elements.  They train their ears, listening to other musicians to discover new genres, to recognize chord progressions, and to identify cues provided by bandmates.  All of this is done away from the stage so that, during a performance, the jazz artist listens to where a song is going and then lets loose with a solo that excites the audience.  The solo is not prepared beforehand, and the soloist is ready to go in whatever direction the situation requires.

Christians can use a similar approach.  We can strengthen our knowledge base with daily study of the Word.  We can practice loving and serving.  We can spend time in prayer so that we are attuned to the cues provided by the Spirit.  We can learn the standards, like the song in today’s reading from Revelation; and we can be ready to sing to the Lord a new song (Psalm 98) whenever we are called to do so.  And we can go faithfully wherever the Spirit takes us.

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