Gospel for Sunday, October 16: Luke 18: 1-8
XXIX Sunday C
1He told them a parable about the need to pray always, without getting tired: 2“There was a judge in a city who did not fear God and had no regard for anyone. 3In that city there was also a widow, who went to him and said: Give me justice against my adversary. 4For a time he didn’t want to; but then he said to himself: Although I do not fear God and have no respect for anyone, 5since this widow is so troublesome I will give her justice, so that she does not continually come to bother me.” 6And the Lord added: “You have heard what the dishonest judge says. 7And will not God do justice to his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night, and will he make them wait a long time? 8I tell you he will do justice to them promptly. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Luke 18: 1-8
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).
Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.
In other meditations we reflected on this beautiful Lucanian Catechesis on prayer: on the need for incessant prayer, which truly means having the heart always united with the Lord, as taught by the “Prayer of the Heart” of the Eastern tradition, where it even goes so far as to modulate on the rhythm of the breath the invocation: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!”; and on the prayer of request, which is not “wasting words like the pagans, who believe they are heard by words…, because your Father knows what things you need even before you ask him” (Mt 6.7- 8): but which is essentially a request of the Holy Spirit (Lk 11,11-13), who teaches us to accept God’s will for us (1 Jn 5,14-15), which is always a plan of salvation, freedom , resurrection.
Today we want to focus on the final phrase of the passage: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).
DEATH, PARUSIA OF THE LORD
The word parousia runs through the entire theological thought of the New Testament: it occurs twenty-four times, of which fourteen in the Pauline writings. In the Greek world it designates the arrival of someone, especially the arrival of an exceptional person, such as the emperor. An inscription found in Tegea states: “Year 69 from the first parousia of the god Hadrian in Greece”.
In the Jewish world the term acquires a theological meaning. The prophets speak of a particular coming: it is the “day of IHWH” (Am 5,18); but “God usually comes in history, in worship, in the revelation of his word. It is still the prophets who announce the future presence of David’s descendant, the Messiah. Adopted from apocalypticism, the theme takes on more precise contours and we then speak of the coming of “one like a son of man” (Dan 7,13)… No longer therefore a coming, but the coming” (M. Orsatti ).
Paul and the Apocalypse tell us about a first coming culminating in the death and Resurrection of Jesus, in which the world was judged, Satan destroyed forever and death conquered. But in the present time we still experience trial, pain, persecution, death, the fall, sin. Therefore there is also talk of a second coming, in which “heaven and earth will disappear” (Rev 20:11).
In God, in his eternal present, we are already victorious, blessed, in glory. But since we creatures are immersed in space and time, what is already present in him will become present for us when we leave the state of creatureliness, that is, at our death. The Parousia has already occurred in God in the Incarnation of the Son, but we are still awaiting it because we are slaves of time. But when we die we will be forever in God. We will finally meet him. Death will therefore be the beautiful moment in which God will come to take us to make us always be with him. Our death is, for each of us, the moment of the Lord’s Parousia, and in this sense all apocalyptic literature that speaks of the second coming of the Lord should be read. It is at the moment of our death that God will definitively meet us.
If our lot will be so much joy and so much beauty, nothing but fear of death! The believer knows that death is only a passage to the blessed life.
WITNESS TO FAITH
It’s not easy to age well. Especially when time passes, when the initial enthusiasm of conversion or youth fades, the believer is called to perseverance, a virtue that is in crisis more than ever today. Jesus insists on the need to persevere in the Faith: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18.8): the coming of the Lord will take place at the moment of our death, and Jesus knows that as the years pass, with the accumulation of trials, disillusions and wounds of life, it is increasingly difficult to trust in him and trust him.
The elderly person is therefore called to joyfully adhere to the Lord, to be profoundly renewed by him, to draw from him perennial freshness and vitality. In the Bible there is almost a complacency in describing old age as a time in which God can work unexpected wonders for the believer: think of the miraculous birth of Isaac for the old Abraham and Sarah (Gen 18.11-14), that of Baptist for the elderly Zechariah and Elizabeth (Lk 1,18). And Paul underlines that it is faith that can make old age a time of fruitfulness (Rom 4:1-25).
Not all elderly people experience in their earthly life the wonders that God performed for the old Abraham and Sarah, or for Zechariah and Elizabeth; but everyone knows that the power of the God of life is inscribed in their age, ready to transfigure them into his Kingdom, where “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be death, nor mourning, nor lament, nor worry, because the first things have passed away” (Rev 21,4), because he will make “all things new”, giving “freely to him who is thirsty water from the fountain of life” (Rev 21,5-6). Therefore the elderly believer can conclude, with Paul: “Even if our external man falls into disrepair, our internal man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16).
Old age is therefore always a time of grace, whether it already experiences, with unexpected vigor, the powerful work of God, or whether, in a situation of decay and illness, it becomes testimony (in Greek martyrìa, from which the word ” martyrdom”) of confident hope in God, Lord and Master of life who calls to the resurrection of the flesh and the bliss of Paradise.
May every elder truly say like Paul: “As for me, my blood is about to be shed as a libation and the time has come to untie the sails. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my race, I have kept the faith. Now I only have the crown of justice that the Lord, just judge, will give me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who lovingly await his manifestation” (2 Tim 4:6-8).
PERSEVERE IN FAITH
“Perseverance does not enjoy great popularity as a word today and is probably even less practiced… The questions that arise regarding perseverance are different: why remain faithful to the decisions made, at both an individual and collective level, in a liquid society that rewards flexibility? Why persevere in doing good when it is not recognized or even becomes a reason for persecution” (L. Dan). Yet only “by your perseverance will you save your souls” (Lk 2:19); we must “watch with perseverance” (Eph 6.12), “run with perseverance in the race that lies before us” (Heb 12.1), because only “he who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Mt 10.22), only those who live “with faith and perseverance become heirs of the promises” (Heb 6:12). Perseverance means remaining faithful even in trials, temptations and tribulations.
This is what today’s Gospel calls us to do.
Happy Mercy to all!
Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org.