29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, October 20, 2019
Fr. Kyle
Homily transcription: 

I love this story of Moses and the Israelites in battle.  As long as Moses keeps his hands in the air, they are winning the battle.  This brings back a memory from seminary when we had our annual seminary basketball tournament.  We were playing one of our rival halls and one of their members dressed up like Moses and came out for the game and would raise his hands in the air like Moses.  Some of our fans would go over and try to lower his arms.  I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me before this but it was at this moment, I realized that we were a house of a bunch of Catholic nerds.

Okay, so what is the deal with Moses raising his arms and the widow in the gospel bothering the judge with her request?

Our readings today show the power of utter dependency on God.  The first step of prayer is to recognize that God is God, and I am not.  The power of prayer is to abandon our own efforts, to surrender ourselves and be totally dependent on God.  But we don’t like being dependent.  We naturally feel that we should be independent.  We feel that we should not have to rely on others and that if something is going to get done, we are the ones who will have to do the heavy lifting.

Let me share with you a window into my own prayer life and how much I struggle with this kind of dependence on God every… single… day.  Most mornings I like to wake up early and go for a run and then come spend time with Jesus in the tabernacle before going to the office.  Almost every morning my prayer is for our parish family and all that we have going on here and all that I desire our parish to be.  Usually when I get close to 8AM when the office is to open, I am chomping at the bit to get into the office so that I can DO something.  My prayer is something like this. “Okay Jesus I entrust our parish family to you to take care of and guide… but in the meantime I’m going to go to the office and actually get something done.”

This is why our scripture passages are so powerful.  Moses and his people are in battle.  Moses could have taken up the sword and fought, but he didn’t.  He kept his hands raised to God.  He lifted up his hands to God totally depending on God’s help.  He chose not to depend on his own skill with a sword, but to depend totally on the love of God for His people.

In the gospel we hear of the parable of the widow who keeps bothering the judge who finally delivers a decision.  We have to be careful not to misread this.  The point is not that the widow keeps bothering the judge.  The point is not that we just need to keep bothering God with prayers.  The point is that the persistent request of the widow was a sign of her need and dependence on the judge.  The point is that our prayer is a sign of our utter dependence and need for God.  And when we finally let go of control and totally depend on God, then we are finally open to God doing great things in our lives. 


The irony of the whole thing is that the true power of prayer comes when we admit our powerlessness.  The true power of prayer is when we experience utter dependency on God.  Moses and the widow do not rely on their own efforts but show their dependency.