October 20, 2013 – Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Growing up, my family had two main rules: you had to be Catholic and you had to be a fan of the Green Bay Packers. When the Packers would score a touchdown, our living room sounded like a mild uproar, with every hand raised to the roof. In prayer, as in football, what we do with our bodies is an outward sign of what we are doing interiorly. The readings this week remind us the importance of claiming victory in prayer: within our hearts and even through our posture.

The story of Moses watching the Israelites in battle has been one of my favorites since childhood. As the armies fought, the Israelites would only advance when Moses kept his hands up. His outstretched hands remind us of victory. When his limbs drooped, their army faltered. But Moses didn’t have to keep his hands raised on his own. Thankfully, Moses’ buddies Aaron and Hur were around to support his arms. In 2nd Timothy, we hear a call to be persistent in our faith whether it is “convenient or inconvenient.” The great news is that, like Moses, we have a community of support (the Church) to help us stay strong. Just as Aaron and Hur helped Moses, we are called to encourage and strengthen each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to be bold in prayer. Confidence in the Lord is contagious!

In our Gospel reading, we hear a parable about a woman who was very bold. She keeps begging the judge to hear her case. In fact, she sounds downright annoying. But her persistence has purpose: she really believes she will receive a fair sentence in time. When Jesus instructs us to pray always “without becoming weary,” He points to her as an example. It is rather humorous that the judge in the story seems fearful of this lady. He thinks he should grant her request, “lest she finally come and strike me.” Really? The poor widow is about to strike this judge? She must have made some kind of commotion for him to fear a physical assault! I’m picturing her raising her fists and maybe bringing along some friends from her knitting club… Okay, maybe not, but it is funny to imagine. Besides making me chuckle, this story reminds me to go to the Lord with enthusiasm in prayer.

I was blessed to spend time recently worshipping the Lord through music with a group of believers. We gathered in a small chapel and belted out prayerful songs. Raising our hands high was a sign of our hearts lifted up to God. Hands raised in prayer also become a sign of triumph. To claim victory in Christ is to know that whatever your circumstance He will bring you through it. When you pray, your very posture becomes sacramental (non-canonically). In other words, you express with your body what you exclaim in your heart.

Like Moses and the Israelites, perhaps you are facing a great battle. I challenge you to bring that battle before the Lord this week. Be so bold as to physically lift your hands in prayer, in a hidden moment. Touchdowns are sweet, but claiming victory in Christ is even sweeter.

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