Fr. Dave’s Homily from the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

PROPER #24…Series C

Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church (October 15&16, 2016)


Text: Luke 18:1-8A


I don’t know about you…but I see a real problem in this Gospel reading (there always seems to be a problem)…and the problem for me is verse 8 of the 18th chapter of Luke…the final verse of our Gospel reading for this 22nd Sunday after Pentecost. Jesus promises that “God will vindicate…God will literally MAKE JUSTICE…for his chosen who cry out to him day and night.  And that vindication…that justice will not be at some undetermined time in the distant future…NO…Jesus says that God will not delay…God will not be slow in vindicating…in Making justice for his chosen ones who cry out day and night!


Do you see the problem?  Too often we have the opposite experience…too often God does delay…too often our most fervent/passionate prayers  (prayers for healing…for justice…for peace) are met with a deafening silence!


Let me give you just one example from my own prayer life.  I have been praying-almost every day for the past five years- for an end to the bloody civil war in Syria. A conflict which began in March of 2011 and has (according to the United Nations) claimed the lives of more than 400k people and created almost 5 million refugees and displaced persons. It is a humanitarian disasters of Biblical proportion, and my persistent prayer (and, I’m sure, the persistent prayer of millions of others) has been for an end to the violence and for peace and justice for the Syrian people.  And, frankly,  I can’t understand why all of those prayers for justice and peace have “hit the wall” of God’s silence and the carnage continues!


And that, my friends is the problem I have with today’s Gospel!


So, let me suggest a possible explanation to this apparently intractable theological dilemma. Suppose God’s response to the injustice and suffering in Syria (and in many other places on the planet)…suppose God’s vindication of his chosen who cry out to him day and night  is like light from a distant star. Astronomers tell us that the closest star to planet earth (not the sun) is a star called Centauri and Centauri is 24 billion miles away (that is a 24 with 12 zeroes behind it). Well, the light emanating from Centauri…the light you see when you look up into the sky actually took four years to arrive at planet earth (that is because light travels at a speed of 186K miles per second). And there are stars in the universe which are millions of light years from earth (there is a galaxy which was recently discovered which is estimated to be 13.3 billion light years from the earth)! So, my friends, is it possible that God’s justice is like light from a distant star…it has been created and is heading in our direction…it is just going to take time to reach us!


My friends, I am convinced that the main point of the parable of the Persistent Widow (or is it the parable of the Unjust Judge) is not to try to explain the delay in the arrival of God’s justice, or even to encourage us to be more persistent in our prayers.  The main point of the parable is to remind us that God always…ALWAYS hears and answers the Prayers of His People! (pause).  It’s just that so often we don’t recognize God’s answers because God’s answers are so radically different from our requests.


But Jesus’ promise still holds!  God hears our prayers and God answers those prayers…every one of them…and sometimes God’s answer is YES…and sometimes the answer is NO…and sometimes the answer is NOT YET…and sometimes the answer is: I HAVE A BETTER IDEA! So, my friends, ASK (and keep on asking)…SEEK (and never stop seeking)…KNOCK until your knuckles are raw…because everyone who asks, RECEIVES…and everyone who seeks will FIND…and everyone who knocks…the door will be OPENED!

I would like to conclude my  homily this evening/morning by sharing the honest confession of a veteran Prayer Warrior who wrote:


I prayed for strength so that I might achieve great things, but instead I got weakness so I could learn to humbly obey…I prayed for wealth that I might be happy, but I experienced poverty so I might be wise.  I prayed for all things that I might experience the “Good Life”…but I received life that I might enjoy all things.  I got absolutely nothing that I asked for, but everything that I had hoped for.  In spite of myself, my prayers were answered, and  I am, among all people, richly blessed…I AM AMONG ALL PEOPLE MOST RICHLY BLESSED!


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