3Jn 5-8??; Ps 112:1-6??; Lk 18:1-8??
“Light shines through the darkness”
Saint Frances Cabrini and her sisters lived in faithful response to the word of the Lord. By their exemplary lifestyle they proclaimed the glory of God, and even to our own day, their voice resounds and to the ends of the world, their message. At her canonization on July 7, 1946, Pius XII made a statement that today some would consider sexist and politically incorrect, “Although her constitution was very frail, her spirit was endowed with such singular strength that, knowing the will of God in her regard, she permitted nothing to impede her from accomplishing what seemed beyond the strength of a woman.” Indeed, the witness of all the saints confronts the foolishness of those who seek beauty and power in this world without seeking The Source of all beauty and power. True wisdom enables such a search to bear fruit, a fruit that will last through centuries of violence and foolishness. However, will wisdom triumph in the lives of those who seek to preserve life? They will lose their lives, but those who lose their lives in loving service will triumph over foolishness. Indeed, the light of faith shines through the darkness of unbelief. Still, the question of Christ in today’s gospel must be answered: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Saint John writes in praise of his beloved church that generously supports the brothers and sisters in the faith who are on a missionary journey to proclaim the Name of Christ among the pagans. In this financial and faithful support of those who spread the good news of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the faithful in his church become co-workers in the truth. Like Saint Paul and other great missionaries of the church these brothers and sisters in Christ do not want to live off their converts. In accepting the generosity of the community of Saint John’s church these early preachers recognize and affirm the common faith shared, and they enable those not on a missionary journey to share in their work of evangelization. No one can be a disciple of Christ without being a missionary. Even if their work of evangelization is not active and out there among the unbelievers in any age or culture, they must support and encourage those so called to spread the truth of the gospel and the abundant life that Christ came to share with us. In many ways the work of Catholic Scholars throughout the ages is a response to the divine mandate to preach and teach to the ends of the earth. Christian Philosophers throughout history have encountered the dim light of the gospel found in any culture encountered by these co-workers in the truth. Indeed such intellectual activity is a part of the mission of the church to seek out and find the hidden ways that the Holy Spirit is using to move all people of every nation to come and see the full splendor of truth shining on the Face of Christ.
Why would any judge be unwilling to enact justice? This judge neither feared God nor respected any human being. With this radical detachment from divine and human fellowship this judge could not be just or compassionate. Indeed, even his final act of securing the rights of the widow was a decision to protect his own reputation. The dishonest judge is the opposite of the LORD God. The LORD is not slow to answer the cries of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night. Indeed, the LORD is speedy to respond with true justice and great compassion. The model for us in this parable is the widow. She never gave up on the dishonest judge. She believed that her persistence would summon forth a response, even from such a self-absorbed judge. She persisted in bothering the dishonest judge because she believed in the justice of her cause. She knew that she was in the right and that ultimately justice would prevail even through an unjust judge. The Lord Jesus wants us to have this kind of persistence in prayer. We need to pray always without becoming weary. Just as the widow prayed, knowing full well the motivation of her dishonest judge. Indeed, she was well acquainted with the darkness of the human heart, and she was confident that even a self-centered judge would respond justly even if only to protect his own reputation. We too must pray, knowing full well the motivation of the Father Almighty. He knows our need even before we pray; yet, he wants us to know our need, from our prayer. Only when we recognize our absolute dependence upon the LORD will we be ready for his just and compassionate response. He is swift to hear and respond; we are slow to understand and receive. Indeed, our persistence in prayer comes from our confidence that the LORD knows us better than we know ourselves and he responds with a swiftness that startles our slow and sluggish hearts. Indeed, the LORD gives his Holy Spirit to anyone who asks, seeks, and knocks. Is there any better response to our prayer? Could we ask for anything more? Yes, the Son of Man will find faith when he comes, only if we continue to pray always and never grow weary.