Are Your Arms Tired from Praying?
Sunday Gospel Reflection 10/16/2022
USCCB Sunday Mass Readings
The evening I asked my wife to marry me, we discussed having a family. My wife has two adopted cousins, so she asked me if I ever considered adoption. Well, as it turned out when I was in grade school, every Christmas, we’d go to my grandparents on my Dad’s side. My Dad’s cousin would come over with his two children, who were both adopted. So, when my wife asked me the question, I was familiar with adoption, and from that night on—it was always part of our plan.
My wife and I met with a social worker, and we were approved for adoption. And we waited for three years for an adoption placement. Adoption is a rollercoaster process filled with trials of ups and downs for expectant parents. It weighed heavily in my prayers. I remember that during that time, I began praying the Liturgy of the Hours. The gospel canticle every morning is the Canticle of Zechariah, prophesying about the prophetic vocation of his son John the Baptist and the coming Messiah. I remember during this time, I began praying very deeply:
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins.
I suppose, in a sort of way, I felt akin to Hannah praying and waiting for her son Samuel. I told God that if he gave us a child, I would do everything I could to teach this child to know, love, and serve Him—my wife even more so.
There’s a striking part of today’s gospel that I’ve wrestled with this week in prayer from the words of Jesus, our Lord:
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
There’s a sort of paradox here. Jesus asks a rhetorical question about God being slow to answer prayer and then states that he will give justice speedily. However, if the answer to our prayers comes speedily, why does He add the last part? But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
The parable is found following a passage that fits into the genre of apocalyptic literature dealing with the eschaton. (Lk. 17:20-37). And so, the final verse in today’s gospel reminds us that the content of our persistent prayers is ordered toward our faith in God.
Will God be slow to answer our prayers? No. Our expectation of the timing is off. And even then, the answer to our prayers might be no.
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night. (Ps. 90:4)
After three years of prayer, holding each other’s arms praying, my wife and I adopted a child—and we named him after the Baptist.