Persistent Prayer and Faith on Earth
November 12th Readings Reflection: Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr
Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, “There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.’”
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
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?”
The last line of today’s Gospel reading catches my attention the most: “But when the Son of Man comes, will [H]e find faith on earth?” If Christ’s Second Coming were to occur this very day, would He find faith on earth? I find it difficult to be optimistic when posed with this question, knowing the state of our world.
All of this can become overwhelming and easily lead to pessimism. However, the key to maintaining hope can be found in today’s parable of the persistent widow. The judge “neither feared God nor respected any human being,” yet because of the widow’s persistence, he finally agreed to “deliver a just decision for her,” if only to be rid of her. Jesus tells us that our just and merciful God will likewise speedily answer our prayers that we offer with perseverance and complete faith in Him. Rather than despairing about our world, we should see in this an urgent call to prayer and penance in reparation for our sins and those of the whole world.
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Josaphat, “an Eastern Rite bishop [who] is held up as a martyr to church unity because he died trying to bring part of the Orthodox Church into union with Rome” (source: Catholic.org). St. Josaphat died in 1623, during the turmoil and violence that resulted from several Orthodox bishops returning to full communion with Rome. They had previously been in schism, denying several fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church, but shortly after Josaphat was born, these Orthodox bishops decided to return to the Church.
Unfortunately, their decision not only lead to disagreements but also to violence, of which Josaphat was ultimately a victim. As bishop, he devoted his life to spreading the Gospel and practicing works of charity. So great was his faith that when he knew his martyrdom was imminent, he was at peace and even joyous that he was about to be given the crown of martyrdom.
When it seemed as though the faith of the world had been lost amidst violent disagreement, St. Josaphat gave his life for the true Faith. Four centuries later, the Church still commemorates his life and death, seeing in him a sign of hope even in the midst of dark times in the world and in the Church. May St. Josaphat’s life serve to inspire us in our faith and fill us with hope that when Christ comes, He will find faith on earth, as a result of our persistent prayers.
St. Josaphat, ora pro nobis!