Perseverance in faith: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

John Everett Millais Moses' perseverance
“Victory O Lord!” John Everett Millais (1871)

Central Idea: Perseverance in living the faith. Doctrine: Perseverance, supernatural perseverance, and Final Perseverance. Practical Application: Living perseverance.

For Lectionary 147, click here.

Central Idea: Perseverance in living the faith

Reading 1 Ex 17:8-13

In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel.
Moses, therefore, said to Joshua,
“Pick out certain men,
and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle.
I will be standing on top of the hill
with the staff of God in my hand.”
So Joshua did as Moses told him:
he engaged Amalek in battle
after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur.
As long as Moses kept his hands raised up,
Israel had the better of the fight,
but when he let his hands rest,
Amalek had the better of the fight.
Moses’ hands, however, grew tired;
so they put a rock in place for him to sit on.
Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands,
one on one side and one on the other,
so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people
with the edge of the sword.

  • As long as we persevere in fighting against our evil tendencies, we will win, but like Moses we need help: a rock to rest on and companions to hold up our tired arms.
  • Our rock is the Church. Our help is the Sacraments, our guardian angel, our good companions on earth, and our friends in the Communion of Saints.

Responsorial Psalm PS 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

I lift up my eyes toward the mountains;
whence shall help come to me?
My help is from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

May he not suffer your foot to slip;
may he slumber not who guards you:
indeed he neither slumbers nor sleeps,
the guardian of Israel.

The LORD is your guardian; the LORD is your shade;
he is beside you at your right hand.
The sun shall not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will guard you from all evil;
he will guard your life.
The LORD will guard your coming and your going,
both now and forever.

  • As long as we remain in the friendship of God, no real harm can come to us, even in suffering.
  • Do we believe and trust in this truth?

Reading 2 2 Tm 3:14-4:2

Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed,
because you know from whom you learned it,
and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures,
which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation
through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God
and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction,
and for training in righteousness,
so that one who belongs to God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.

  • To be faithful to the Gospel, we need light. We find this light in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church.
  • The thing we need most of all is to persevere in working out our salvation. This working out includes doing apostolate.

Gospel Lk 18:1-8

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?”

  • A sound conclusion we can draw from the content of Divine Revelation is that God has already won for us every good thing, to be securely possessed, forever.
  • But because right now we cannot see the justice God has actually done for us, we must persevere in our faith until the end of our lives.
  • We do not know the answer to Christ’s question of whether there will be any faithful men left on earth when he returns, but we can redouble our own efforts to live out the demands of the Catholic faith.

Doctrine: Perseverance, supernatural perseverance, and Final Perseverance

  • The natural virtue of perseverance makes us constant, reliable, and steadfast, and it cures us of fickleness. The widow’s goal was a just ruling; the obstacle was the unjust judge; perseverance in asking was her means of overcoming that obstacle and achieving her just ruling.
  • Supernatural perseverance in the Faith is our life-long struggle to hold on to and advance in the transformation God wants us to undergo, made possible by the grace he gives us. According to St. Paul, our goal is to be prepared for our meeting with Christ our King. The obstacle is the difficulty of remaining faithful. The means is keeping doing the right thing whether the way is easy or hard.
  • Final Perseverance is the grace from God, and our effort in response, to remain faithful to God until death, despite the suffering which may afflict us. We should pray for Final Preseverance and never presume that we will be “okay” no matter what we do.

Practical Application: Living perseverance

  • To live the natural virtue of perseverance, identify (1) a good goal, (2) the obstacles that stand between you and the achievement of that goal, and (3) ways to get over, around, under, or through those obstacles, and then (4) go about applying these ways over time until the goal is reached.
  • To live perseverance in the Faith we already have sanctifying grace, but we need constant injections of sacramental and actual graces, for example, through the cleansing of Confession and the infusion of the Eucharist.
    • A good rule is Saturday Confession and Sunday Communion. Confession is our medicine and the Eucharist our food for the journey to eternal life.
    • We also need the light of Divine Revelation to see our path and we have this in the teachings of the Church, for example as articulated in the Catechism.
    • Finally, we need to keep acting in accord with our Faith—we keep walking uphill, downhill, in rain, in heat, in snow, and when it is pleasant.
  • To achieve Final Perseverance, which is a gift from God we can refuse, we should keep asking for it, even when young.
    • One way we do this is by praying for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Hail Mary we ask, “Pray for us sinners . . . at the hour of our death.”
    • From time to time it is healthy to consider our own inevitable death.
    • We can also encourage our own faithfulness by praying for those we know who have died, that they received this gift and accepted it.

The Homiletic Directory recommends these additional themes and Catechism points:

  • CCC 2574-2577: Moses and prayer of intercession
  • CCC 2629-2633: prayer of petition
  • CCC 2653-2654: the Word of God, a source of prayer
  • CCC 2816-2821: “Thy kingdom come”
  • CCC 875: urgency of the preaching task






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