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10/20/19 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
 Lectionary: 147

  • In today’s parable… Jesus teaches us a lesson about the power of persistence…
  • Persistence can be a virtue… But how do we know when to push forward, and when to let go?
  • We can waste a considerable amount of physical and emotional energy fighting the things that we simply can’t change in life, instead of learning to accept them…
  • This wasted energy drains us… and our inability to change the unchangeable frustrates us… so we often re-double our efforts and continue to hit our heads against the immoveable wall with greater and greater persistence, while God patiently waits for us to awaken from our stubbornness…
  • There’s a fine line between persistence and stubbornness... between hope and despair... and the only sure way we can end up on the right side of that line is through prayer, and discernment
  • Persistence is a virtue only when it’s pursued after sufficient prayer and discernment
  • We need to know when to persist and when to move on to acceptance… We need to learn to strike the right balance between the two…
  • Our need for finding this balance is best expressed through Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer… “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; (the) Courage to change the things I can; and (the) wisdom to know the difference.”
  • Like the widow in today’s Gospel – If after sufficient prayer and discernment, we’re convinced that we’re pursuing a just cause; then persistence is not only warranted, but also required of us as practicing Christians…
  • But the pursuit must always be waged with love, and for the right reasons
    • It must be waged for justice, not for vengeance
    • And it must be waged without personal attack upon another human being…
  • As Americans, we seem to have an inherent distaste for surrender or acceptance because they’re often associated with “giving up…”
  • But acceptance or surrendering to a given situation is not about giving up
  • There’s a distinct difference between acceptance or surrender and the despair associated with giving up...
  • Despair is a loss of all hope... a feeling that we’re alone in our struggles... that we’re defeated and lost
  • Acceptance is based upon the hope of faith...
  • Acceptance is relies upon a deep belief that God has only our best interests in mind and that God has a plan for our lives that we just can’t see right now...
  • Acceptance doesn’t necessarily make a bad situation better, but it does make it meaningful
  • One of the reasons that we may find acceptance or surrender to be difficult is that we have an inherent desire to be in control of every situation…
  • Yet ironically, we often abdicate our control at every opportunity…
  • Although we can’t control other people, or the events around us; we can control how we see them, how we respond to them, and how we conduct ourselves
  • We have the ability to control ourselves, yet we often prefer to “React” rather than to “Respond” to the world around us…
  • The key to proper discernment is to allow God to lead us, rather than trying to lead God
  • Reacting to a situation requires no thought or effort on our part… It’s a gut level response, often borne from emotion
  • Responding is an entirely different matter…
  • We respond, after we’ve paused to allow the Holy Spirit to help us reflect upon the situation…
  • This may take a few seconds, or a few days or even a few weeks…
  • And our immediate response may simply be… “I’ll need to get back to you on that, after I’ve given it more thought…”
  • A proper response often requires patience, and thought, and most importantly, prayer and discernment
  • When we take the time to respond, rather than to react… We allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, rather than the other way around…
  • When we rush to judgment, we often leave Christ behind
  • Jesus never allowed situations to control Him…
  • Instead, He chose to control how He responded to the situations He faced…
  • And if we’re to be followers and imitators of Christ… We’re each called to do the same
  • Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel: “…to pray always without becoming weary…”
  • Prayer is nothing more than putting ourselves into the presence of God, by being Present to God without distractions…
  • We should pray throughout our day… Talking to God, asking for God’s help in all the situations that we face…
  • In doing so, we will find that God will often resolve situations, (both big and small), in ways that we could never have imagined…
  • That’s the power of prayer and discernment… and that’s how we begin to learn how to respond, rather than to react
  • And that’s how we learn discern when to persist, and when to let go
  • None of this is possible without Faith… Faith that our God will remain true to His promises to us…
  • The question that Jesus asks at the end of today’s Gospel passage is meant for all of us: “But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?"
  • Our faith is ultimately a gift from God… But it’s a gift that must be received, and nurtured throughout our lives…
  • Faith is hope put into action… And the action that we’re often called to, is to wait on the Lord…
  • Our faith is exercised in a multitude of ways… Most certainly through prayer, but also in waiting
  • All of life is about finding balance… Avoiding extremes of every sort
  • Prayer, discernment, and patience are the keys to finding this balance… to know when to persist, and when to embrace acceptance and wait on the Lord
  • We’re called to allow God to let our lives unfold in His wisdomnot ours

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