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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C): Exodus 17:8-13 • Luke 18:1-8

For October 13, 2016

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)

Opening Prayer

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Heavenly Father,
your Son commanded us to love one another as he has loved us,
and he taught us that he loves us as you love him.
We ask you to send your Holy Spirit upon us as we read your word,
so that as we come to understand your love for us
we may better love you, and all you have created, in return.
Amen.

St. Jerome: pray for us.
St. David: pray for us.

First Reading – Exodus 17:8-13 (NAB) (RSV)

📕 Exodus is the second book of the Bible, and one of the five books of Moses, collectively called the Torah (which means “the law”) and the Pentateuch (which means “the five books”). The book of Genesis ends with the families of Jacob’s twelve sons living in Egypt, and the book of Exodus begins by mentioning that their descendants (Hebrews/Israelites) became so great that the Pharaoh in Egypt enslaved them (c. 1600 BC), and records the events of their rescue by God through Moses and his brother Aaron (c. 1450 BC).

📖 In chapter 14, the Israelites cross the Red Sea; their song of victory is recorded in chapter 15. Their journey in the desert from the Red Sea to Mount Sinai (where they will receive the Ten Commandments) is in chapters 16 through 19. God feeds them miraculously with manna and with water from a rock, and then the encounter with the Amalekites occurs.

🌎 Rephidim is somewhere near the southern end of the Sinai peninsula, to the east of Egypt. It was the Israelites’ last recorded stop before they reached Mount Sinai.

👤  Moses was an Israelite who was raised by the Egyptians during the Israelites’ slavery. He eventually fled Egypt after killing a slave-master, and God chose him to lead His people out of Egypt, along with his brother Aaron.

👤  Joshua was the chief assistant of Moses, and would become the leader of the Israelites after Moses’ death. Joshua was originally named Hoshea, but Moses renamed him; his new name (Yehoshu’a in Hebrew, meaning “Yah[weh] is salvation”) is essentially the same name as Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew, meaning “he saves”, is an abbreviated form of Yehoshu’a).

👤  Aaron was the older brother of Moses; he eventually became the first high priest of the Israelites. Hur was a companion of Moses and Aaron, but there is not much about him in the Bible.

👤  In Genesis we read about Adam and Eve, Noah, and then Abraham. Abraham’s son Isaac had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. There was often strife between Esau and Jacob, and between their descendants as well. Amalek was a grandson of Esau; his descendants were a nomadic people called the Amalekites. The Israelites are descendants of Jacob (whom God renamed “Israel”). Amalek himself was dead long before the events of Exodus 17; the use of his name in this passage is an example of metonymy, a figure of speech where a thing or concept is called by the name of something associated with it, such as in the expressions “the White House responded to reports…” or “Boston will be playing New York”.

Gospel – Luke 18:1-8 (NAB) (RSV)

📕 St. Luke was the author of both a gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke reports at the beginning of his gospel that many others had already compiled narratives of the life of Jesus, and that his is “an orderly account” intended to assure you (the reader) of the truth of the things you have heard. Both Luke and Acts are addressed to “Theophilus”, which may have been a person, but it may just be a generic term (because it is Greek for “lover of God”).

📖 After his encounter with the ten lepers, Jesus talks about the kingdom of God and the day when the “Son of Man” is revealed (Luke 17:20-37). Luke 18 begins with this Sunday’s reading. This parable concludes with Jesus referring again to the “Son of Man”.

👤  “Son of Man” is an Old Testament expression meaning “mortal human”. In the book of the prophet Ezekiel, God calls Ezekiel “Son of man” nearly 100 times. The phrase is often used in the Psalms in conjunction with just the word “man” in a poetic couplet:
“What is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)
In the book of the prophet Daniel, it is used twice; once as in Ezekiel, but once in a vision that Daniel has, where he sees “[coming] with the clouds of heaven … one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days … and to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom” (Daniel 7:13-14). In his final days, Jesus applies that description to himself (see Matthew 26:64, Mark 14:62, and Luke 21:27); he speaks of himself as the “Son of man” dozens of times. He is described as “one like a son of man” on two occasions in St. John’s Revelation (1:13; 14:14). This title emphasizes both his true human nature and his divine majesty as God’s Son and anointed one (both “Messiah” and “Christ” mean “anointed”).

Study Questions

🗣  What links can you find between the Old Testament and Gospel readings?

🗣  How, and why, is the Israelites’ victory over Amalek dependent upon Moses?

🕊   What event is foreshadowed by Moses, Aaron, and Hur on the hill?

🕊   Who do the Israelites represent?
Who do the Amalekites represent?

🕊   How do both Moses and Joshua symbolize Christ?

❤️ How can prayer help us in overcoming sin?

💪 What do Moses, Aaron, Hur, and Joshua teach us about the Christian life?

💪 What is the lesson Jesus is teaching by this parable (see Luke 18:1)?

🗣  What sort of picture do you get of the judge, based on his description?

🗣  Why does the judge hear the widow’s case?

🕊   Who do the judge and the widow represent?

🗣  Is the dishonest judge really a good model or example of God?
What is Jesus actually teaching about God here?

❤️ Why do we need to persevere in prayer? Why pray for something more than once?

🗣  What does Jesus’ question mean? Why does he ask it after this parable?
(What does faith have to do with the lesson of the parable?)

Commentary

A sign of Him that was to be crucified was made … in the type of the extending of the hands of Moses, and of Hoshea being renamed Jesus (Joshua). … God enjoined that the incident be recorded, and the name of Jesus laid up in your understandings.

St. Justin Martyr (d. 165), Dialogue with Trypho, 131

See how the type was “given by Moses,” but the “Truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). When the Amalekites warred, the hands of Moses were supported by Aaron and Hur standing on either side of him; but when Christ came, He of Himself stretched forth His Hands upon the Cross.

St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), Homilies on the Gospel of St. John, John 1:16

Amalek shall be conquered, not with arms alone, but with the hostile hand of the righteous forming both prayers and the invincible trophy of the Cross.

St. Gregory Nazianzen (d. 390), Second Oration on Easter, 21

If he then heard her prayer, who hated to be asked, how must He hear who exhorts us to ask? … [But] if faith fail, prayer perishes. For who prays for that which he does not believe?

St. Augustine (d. 430), Sermons, LXV

Consider This

What is the “Amalek” in your life? Who are your Aaron and Hur? To whom can you be an Aaron or a Hur? Who is the Joshua to your Moses: who are you supporting with prayer?

Reflection

🗣  What have I learned about who God is,
so that I can love Him better?

🕊   What have I learned about Christ,
so that I can recognize his love for me better?

💪  What have I learned about the Christian life,
so that I can show my love for God and neighbor better?

❤️  How can I incorporate into prayer what I have learned,
so that I can express my gratitude for God’s love?

Closing Prayer

Almighty God,
teach us to persevere in prayer,
and grant us patience to wait for your word.
Give us eyes that we may see our brothers and sisters in need of prayer,
and strength so that we may support them if they grow weary.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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