Nov 16, 2007

Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C - 20th October, 2007 - St Patrick's Soho, London, UK

Readings: Exodus 17:8-13, 2nd Timothy 3:14-4:2, Gospel: Luke 18:1-8.

View the readings:

“When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?”

My dear friends, walking the streets of London, especially around this area of town, one can often feel like saying, perhaps with a tone of disappointment, frustration: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith in Soho or in London?

My answer to this question today is ‘Yes.’ The Son of Man will find faith in Soho, he will find faith in London in abundance.

Well my friends, it can be very easy to give up on our world, to think and act in a way that hides the Church and faith in God within the four walls of the church, of this church, or it easy for each of us to even hide our faith, to not share it with anyone and to become inward looking.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to “pray continually and to never lose heart.” At times it very easy to lose heart. Many in the world today criticise the Church, others ridicule those with faith and others try to find ways to convince the world that God is construct of the Churches and that God does not exist.

As Christians, there is only one truly authentic response, as Christ tells the apostles in today’s Gospel: pray always and never lose heart.

But how do we pray? How do we live a life in Christ in the context of today’s society?

Today’s readings give us some worthy guidance and direction for our prayer and reflection.

In today’s first reading we see an example of how to pray – Moses prayed for the safety and the success of the Israelite army as they were attacked by the Amalekites. You may have noticed how Moses prayed. He prayed with his arms raised towards the Heavens, with the staff of God in his hand.

As you could imagine, raising your arms in the air would get tiring very quickly, especially for an elderly man like Moses. So Moses was assisted in his mission of prayer.

Firstly a stone was placed under Moses so that he could sit down, and then Aaron and Hur came and supported the arms of Moses, so that the arms of Moses would not drop.

My friends, when we pray, we are not praying alone, we are not isolated, we don’t have to do it on our own, we don’t have to carry all the burden ourselves.

When we pray we are supported by the angels and the saints who come and are present with us in our prayer and in our lives. They are holding our arms, they are lifting us up and they are helping us to proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God, insisting on it, as St Paul tells Timothy in today’s 2nd reading.

But there are times when we don’t feel the presence and support of the angels and saints, and this is normal. And that is why we as Christians support each other. Supporting each other is one of the reasons why we as Catholics gather together to pray and to celebrate the mysteries of Christ’s death and resurrection every week, and where possible, throughout the week as well. Most things are difficult when you try to do them alone. But when we do it together it is a lot easier.

“Many hands make light work.” The same is true of prayer. Christ tells us that when two or three are gathered in his name, he is there. It seems too easier. My friends, I look around and see a good number of people here this evening gathered in Christ’s name. Christ is here in Soho. We are in his presence

My friends, true prayer is never individualistic. In fact, Faith is not a private personal possession. Jesus instructs us to pray the “Our Father.” He doesn’t say pray the My Jesus or the My Father.

A person of faith prays not only for personal needs but prays with and for all of humanity.

Faith and prayer require a personal choice and commitment by the individual, but faith will always lead us to communion with other believers, with those in the church here in Soho, with other believers in London and in England, and with believers across all the world. In fact, we are not only supported by those alive on earth today, but we are supported by those who have faithfully lived out the message of the Kingdom of God throughout all ages.

Moses today is supporting us with his arms raised, with Aaron and Hur lifting Moses arms high in the air. We are supported by the Apostles, by the founders of Christianity in England, by St Patrick, the patron of this church, and by all who have professed the Catholic faith throughout all time.

My friends, when faith seems to be weak, we must not lose heart. Trust in God and don’t give up. Keep on keeping on.

Pray and Stick at it. God is powerful. If your prayer is difficult, if you find faith to lack meaning, if you are tempted to give up on living the Christian way, then don’t rush in to making a decision. Pray! Ask the Lord to assist you. Ask the assistance of fellow Christians. Christians are not meant to be isolated. We support each other, and from there we support and bring peace and harmony to God’s world in faith, hope and love.

Work hard, pray, proclaim the message of Christ through your thoughts, words and actions and be patient – God’s kingdom will come.

Who would have thought 3 years ago that England tonight would be defending the Rugby World Cup Trophy after their devastating defeat by 51 to 15 to Australia in Brisbane in 2004.

But the English team has worked hard. They never gave up hope and the result tonight may be that they win the Rugby World Cup the 2nd time in a row.

If a National Rugby Team can turn around from being at enormous lows to achieving the highest honours in their sport, how much greater does God work.

My friends, will the Son of Man find any faith in Soho, any faith in London? I believe God will find faith in abundance.

As St Paul said to Timothy in today’s 2nd reading: “In the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with intention of teaching.”

“Pray continually and never lose heart.”

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