32nd Week, Saturday, Nov 18; Dedication of Churches of Sts Peter and Paul

32nd Week, Saturday, Nov 18

Wisdom 18:14-16; 19:6-9 / Luke 18:1-8

The sea becomes a dry road; Israel saw what God did and rejoiced.

Theologian Karl Barth likened reading the Bible to looking out the window of a tall building and seeing people down on the sidewalk looking up at something on the roof. Of course, you can't see what it is. You can only make guesses, based on the expression on the people's faces. Israel's crossing of the Red Sea, which today's reading alludes to, is a good illustration of Barth's point. Something marvelous happened at the Red Sea. We may not understand the Bible story fully, but whatever happened changed Israel forever. Their experience at the Red Sea changed them from a mob of fugitive slaves into God's people. And as far as faith is concerned, that's really all that matters.


How prayerfully, reverently, and imaginatively do we read the Bible? “What you bring away from the Bible depends to some extent on what you carry to it.” Oliver Wendell Holmes


Their salvation through the Red Sea and their journey through the desert were like a new creation for the Hebrew people. God protected them and led them to freedom. This reminds us how our passing through the saving waters of baptism has recreated us as the People of God.


There is no doubt that God listens to our prayers. And God would certainly pay attention to earnest and persevering prayers, and of course, prayers made with faith. But if we think that God is not answering our prayers, then maybe we have to see what our prayers are all about. 

In other words, we have to listen to our own prayers, for a change. Prayer is not about trying to change God's mind or God's will. It would be rather absurd to assume that if we say long and persistent prayers, God would finally give in and grant us what we want. Rather prayer is an act of faith and it is the source of strength that will empower us. 

It is with prayer that we will continue to strive for justice and work for peace. It may mean that we come to realize and accept that some things cannot be changed immediately. 

It may also mean that we put our trust in God and believe that with God, nothing is impossible. Whatever it may be, our earnest and persistent prayer should bring our wills to conform to God's will. It is God's will "to see justice done, and done speedily". 

As the 1st reading assures us, God will keep His children from all harm. With faith in our prayer, we will see amazing miracles, we will be like horses at pasture, we will skip like lambs, singing our praises to the Lord our deliverer.


Luke must have had in mind those who pray and think that God does not act when they beg him. There is also an eschatological tone in the words of Jesus, that the delay in the coming of the kingdom should not discourage us. In any case, our prayer should be trustful and insistent.


In the parable of the widow and the judge who had neither fear of God nor respect for anyone, Jesus not only exhorts us to pray without discouragement but also teaches what true prayer is. First, the prayer of the widow arose from her humble admission of helplessness; the fact that she approached an unjust judge reveals her helpless situation. Second, her prayer was made with total trust and confidence that she would receive what she asked for; she believed the judge had power and would remedy her situation. Third, her prayer came from lived experience; from the existential situation, and not something superficial. Fourth, what the widow pleaded was right and just and not something egoistic and evil. Finally, the widow’s prayer was persistent, which shows the intensity of her prayer. Persistent prayer purifies our intentions; it also reveals the strength of our faith, trust, and confidence in the Lord. The prayer of the just is always rewarded by the Lord.



Lord our God, we know that you are our loving Father, that you wait for us, and that you are attentive to us every moment of our lives. Let then our prayer come to you as a breath of hope and a cry of trust coming from the poverty of our hearts. If you have to turn us down when we ask for harmful or useless things, give us what we really need and keep our trust alive that you are good and loving for you love us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


Dedication of Churches of Saints Peter and Paul

November 18

The Story of the Dedication of the Churches of Saints Peter and Paul

St. Peter’s is probably the most famous church in Christendom. Massive in scale and a veritable museum of art and architecture, it began on a much humbler scale. Vatican Hill was a simple cemetery where believers gathered at Saint Peter’s tomb to pray. In 319, Constantine built a basilica on the site that stood for more than a thousand years until, despite numerous restorations, it threatened to collapse. In 1506, Pope Julius II ordered it razed and reconstructed, but the new basilica was not completed and dedicated for more than two centuries.

St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls stands near the Abaazia delle Tre Fontane, where Saint Paul is believed to have been beheaded. The largest church in Rome until St. Peter’s was rebuilt, the basilica also rises over the traditional site of its namesake’s grave. The most recent edifice was constructed after a fire in 1823. The first basilica was also Constantine’s doing.

Constantine’s building projects enticed the first of a centuries-long parade of pilgrims to Rome. From the time the basilicas were first built until the empire crumbled under “barbarian” invasions, the two churches, although miles apart, were linked by a roofed colonnade of marble columns.