Monday, October 17, 2016


By Jerry Franzen                 Cathedral                     10/16/16
Exodus 17:8-13           2 Timothy 3:14-4:2            Luke 18:1-8

*A lone man survived a shipwreck in a life boat
and managed to make it to a deserted island.
From the lifeboat, he built a rudimentary hut in which he slept
and in which he kept some possessions
that he managed to take with him in the lifeboat.
Every day he prayed to God
that he would be delivered from this ordeal,
that he would be rescued.
Every day he searched the horizon to hail a ship that might pass by.
One day he was horrified to find his hut in flames.
All that he had saved from the shipwreck was gone;
as was his shelter.
To the man’s limited vision, it was the worst that could happen.
He cursed God for not answering his prayers for a rescue.
The very next day a ship anchored off the island and rescued him.
The captain told him, “We saw your smoke signal.”


Three years ago I began my homily
for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time with that story.
I said that the readings then spoke to me about perseverence,
and they still do speak to me about perseverance,
specifically perseverance in prayer.
We are in the midst of the month of October,
the month in which we are encouraged to promote
a change of heart in those
who have embraced the culture of death.

On more than one occasion, I have heard Bishop Foys
describe the scene of a person on his or her deathbed.
People are gathered around and someone says,
“We’ve done everything we can do medically;
the only thing left is to pray.”
Bishop Foys would then go on to remind his listeners
that prayer should not be considered the “last resort,”
but is should be the most important thing to do.
The same is true in the ProLife movement.

We can march, we can include our names in the newspaper add,
we can work to elect to office those who support
the ProLife movement,
we can put ProLife messages on our cars.
We can support centers that minister to women
with untimely pregnancies;
we can protest the death penalty.
All of those actions are good for the cause.
We can do many things, but we sometimes forget
that the primary thing we should be doing is praying
for an end to the violence that takes an innocent life.
We have been at prayer for this cause for a long time,
more than 40 years,
and throughout that time some 55 million lives have been lost.
That could be discouraging, yet we must persevere in that prayer,
just as Moses prayed unceasingly
that God would give the Israelites the victory.
We, too, must persevere in our prayer.

We have so many directions that our prayer can take:
Pray for the women seeking an abortion,
that they have a change of heart.
Pray for those performing abortions,
that they recognize that abortion is
the taking of an innocent human life, murder.
Pray for those who have had an abortion,
that they seek help in counseling and realize God’s mercy.
Pray for the promotion of adoption
as an alternative to abortion.
Pray for those who work
and volunteer in pregnancy care centers.
Pray for an end of the death penalty.
Pray for an end of assisted suicide
and other forms of euthanasia.

There are many other directions for our prayer to take,
certainly there are enough to go around.
Each of us is not alone; we are united as the Body of Christ.
We have the support of each other
just as Moses had support from Aaron and Hur.
Yes, we must persevere in our prayer.
Moses had an advantage that we do not have;
he could see the immediate results of his prayer:
Hands up Israelites gaining; hands down Israelites loosing.
Prayer is not often answered in that way;
we must persist and have faith
that God will eventually accomplish the victory.


In today’s Gospel, Jesus said that the parable was
“about the necessity for the (disciples) to pray always
without becoming weary.”
I see the dishonest judge in the parable
as the moral climate of today.
Secular humanism and relativism have led many people
to deny that there is a God, the author of truth
that demands the designation of “right” and “wrong.”
Many have the “if it feels good, do it” attitude,
without regard to how others might be affected,
much less themselves.

The judge in the parable
“neither feared God nor respected any human being.”
We, who support the sanctity of life, may feel like the widow,
who was alone without any one to support her.
She was fighting an uphill battle
as we are struggling against the prevailing moral climate.   
“For a long time the judge was unwilling”
to render a just decision in favor of the widow.”
For almost 44 years we have been working
to reverse the culture of death.
But neither Moses nor the widow gave up; they persevered,
and that is what we are to do as faithful followers of Christ.


Praying with perseverence.  Why must we persevere?
Why can’t we just pray once and let that be it?
Maybe God wants to hear from us more often,
so that we do not forget about Him,
forget that he is our Father, our Abba, our “Daddy.”
He knows that, if we continually turn to Him with our needs,
our faith in Him will be increased.
Our prayers don’t change God, but they should change us.
I have quoted to you before the following definition of faith:
“Faith is our response to a God
who is ever inviting us into a deeper relationship with Him.”
Our responses to Him, our prayers, should increase our faith.
We will not change God with our repeated petitions,
but WE will be changed for the better
in our relationship with God.
I feel that I have been the beneficiary
of so many of God’s gifts,
such that my prayer is
that I can be faithful enough to God to cooperate with the grace,
He provides with every element
that is part of God’s plan for me.

That can be a good way of forming our prayer intention related to
the ProLife cause –
 “that those who do not recognize the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death would cooperate with God’s grace to have a change of heart and recognize that sanctity.” 

AND, if you are looking for a particular prayer form,
remember October is also the month in which
we promote the rosary as a form of prayer.
At the “Priests for Life” web site you can find
special ProLife meditations for the mysteries of the rosary.

Today’s parable is unusual in that God is often represented
by one of the characters in the parable.
In other parables God is the Sower of seed, the Good Shepherd,
the Father of the prodigal son, etc.
The corrupt judge is rather like the opposite of God.
However, the judge and God do have one thing in common:
They each can hear the voice of those petitioning them.
The widow at least had the opportunity to plead her case.
She, like us, had a voice
with which to repeat her request for justice.
That is not true for the well over 55 million persons
killed in abortions since the decision
in the case of Roe vs Wade.
They had no chance to make their plea for justice.
We must be their voice and pray always without becoming weary.
May we continue to pray that abortion be declared murder,
that the killing be stopped,
and that when the Son of Man comes,
He will truly find faith on earth.

*Taken from “1001 More Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking” Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI 1998 p 254 #720.