of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Perhaps the hardest Olympic event is the marathon: not only does it demand strength and fitness, but it calls for immense perseverance and endurance. Life in general and the Christian life in particular, is a marathon. We will face hills and mountains as well as valleys and gentle slopes in life: we will face obstacles and pressures which will make us want to say, as the prophet Elijah did, “Lord, it is enough!” Especially in our lifetime of prayer, there will be times when we say “Lord, I can go no further.” Jesus himself understands the need for perseverance in prayer, and the temptation to lose heart, which is why he offers us this parable and teaching today. And remember the thought from the first reading: sometimes we may need to hold each other in our praying!

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Exodus 17:8-13
This reading may seem rather strange unless you have looked at today’s Gospel! The point is that Moses’ physical perseverance is a symbol of his spiritual perseverance. In one sense this is a very easy reading – it is a story, with a beginning, middle and end. However, the reader must remember that the setting of the story will be unfamiliar to many people in the congregation, and you will have to help them along. Look at the reading and identify unfamiliar words and concepts – try to imagine Moses, Aaron and Hur looking down on a battlefield with the Israelite and Amalekite armies facing each other, the battle flowing one way, then another, as Moses’ arms rise and fall. Don’t let the pronunciation of the names put you off – the story is more important!
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2
A good reading for the reader to reflect on! “All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be holy.” Keep these words with you as you read week by week! We are continuing Saint Paul’s advice to Timothy – this week he offers him two thoughts: remember the importance of the Scriptures and proclaim the message firmly but patiently. We are told that to be a Christian is to be a missionary – we cannot believe without sharing that faith and bringing others to it: this reading is good advice on how to do that. Offer Saint Paul’s words to your congregation carefully and gently – give them time to think about what you read! The last paragraph is particularly important: perhaps the way to read these words is the way Saint Paul describes Timothy’s duty: read with insistence, but with “patience and with the intention of teaching.”

From the Catechism

Moses and prayer of intercession
CCC 2574-2577

Prayer of petition
CCC 2629-2633

The Word of God, a source of prayer
CCC 2653-2654

“Thy kingdom come”
CCC 2816-2821

Urgency of the preaching task
CCC 875

CCC 2574 "Once the promise begins to be fulfilled (Passover, the Exodus, the gift of the Law, and the ratification of the covenant), the prayer of Moses becomes the most striking example of intercessory prayer, which will be fulfilled in "the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

2575 Here again the initiative is God's. From the midst of the burning bush he calls Moses. This event will remain one of the primordial images of prayer in the spiritual tradition of Jews and Christians alike. When "the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob" calls Moses to be his servant, it is because he is the living God who wants men to live. God reveals himself in order to save them, though he does not do this alone or despite them: he calls Moses to be his messenger, an associate in his compassion, his work of salvation. There is something of a divine plea in this mission, and only after long debate does Moses attune his own will to that of the Saviour God. But in the dialogue in which God confides in him, Moses also learns how to pray: he balks, makes excuses, above all questions: and it is in response to his question that the Lord confides his ineffable name, which will be revealed through his mighty deeds.

2576 "Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." Moses' prayer is characteristic of contemplative prayer by which God's servant remains faithful to his mission. Moses converses with God often and at length, climbing the mountain to hear and entreat him and coming down to the people to repeat the words of his God for their guidance. Moses "is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly, not in riddles," for "Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth."

2577 From this intimacy with the faithful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, Moses drew strength and determination for his intercession. He does not pray for himself but for the people whom God made his own. Moses already intercedes for them during the battle with the Amalekites and prays to obtain healing for Miriam. But it is chiefly after their apostasy that Moses "stands in the breach" before God in order to save the people. The arguments of his prayer - for intercession is also a mysterious battle - will inspire the boldness of the great intercessors among the Jewish people and in the Church: God is love; he is therefore righteous and faithful; he cannot contradict himself; he must remember his marvellous deeds, since his glory is at stake, and he cannot forsake this people that bears his name."

Gospel Wordsearch

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