TO TEACH HIS DISCIPLES TO PRAY persistently and confidently, Jesus told them this parable:

“There was a judge in a certain town who did not fear God and did not respect man.  Now there was a certain widow in that town, and she kept coming to him saying, ‘Do me justice against my adversary.’  And he would not for a long time.  But afterwards he said within himself, ‘Although I do not fear God, nor even respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will do her justice, lest by her continual coming she finally wear me out.'”

“Hear what the unjust judge says; and will not God avenge His elect, who cry to Him day and night?  And will He be slow to act in their case?  I tell you that He will avenge them quickly.  Yet when the Son of Man comes, will He find, do you think, faith on the earth?”

In behalf of humility and against self-righteousness, He told another parable:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican.  The Pharisee stood and began to pray thus within himself: ‘O God, I thank Thee that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, dishonest, adulterers, or even like this publican.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I possess.’  But the publican standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me the sinner!'”

“I tell you, this man went back to his home justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Some Pharisees came up and sought to trap Him by asking whether it was lawful for a man to repudiate his wife (as many rabbis were then teaching this could be done for any cause).  And Jesus answered:

“Have you not read that the Creator, from the beginning, made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  Therefore now they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

They then asked Him why, if this were so, Moses had provided for a wife being dismissed through a written notice.   And Jesus answered:

“Because Moses, by reason of the hardness of your heart, permitted you to put away your wives; but it was not so from the beginning.  And I say to you, that whoever puts away his wife, except for immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a woman who has been put away commits adultery.”

The disciples were surprised to hear Jesus teach that the marriage bond could not be broken; and they asked Him whether it would not be better for a man not to marry at all.  Then Jesus said to them:

“Not all can accept this teaching; but those to whom it has been given.  For there are eunuchs who were born so from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made so by men; and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the kingdom of Heaven’s sake.  Let him accept it who can.”

As Jesus was speaking, some little children had been brought forward for Him to bless them.  The disciples began to rebuke the children and their escorts, thinking perhaps to save their Master annoyance.  But when Jesus saw what they were doing, He said indignantly:

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for of such is the kingdom of God.  Amen I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child will not enter into it.”

And calling them to Him, He embraced the children and blessed them.

As Christ continued His journey, a young ruler came to Him, saying, “Good Master, what good work shall I do to have eternal life?” Jesus said:

“Why dost thou ask Me about what is good?  One there is who is good, that is God.  But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

The young man asked, “Which?,” and Jesus replied:

“Thou shalt not kill,
Thou shalt not commit adultery,
Thou shalt not steal,
Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Honor thy father and mother,
and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

The youth said he had kept all these, and asked what more was required.  Then Jesus counseled him:

“If thou will be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

The young man went away depressed, for he would not give up his wealth; he was too attached to his material comforts.  And Jesus said to His disciples:

“Amen I say to you, with difficulty will a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven.  And further I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The astonished disciples asked who could be saved if this were so, and Jesus replied:

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19: 3-26  |  Mark 10:2-27  |  Luke 18:1-27

Meditation:  In the first of these parables, Christ emphasizes the necessity of perseverance in our efforts to grow in holiness. By continually aspiring to union with God by constant prayer we will finally achieve Him. Possession of Him will not be denied us if our prayers are persistent and confident.  “Pray always” in word and work should be the watchword of the soul striving to lay hold of eternal life.  Is prayer an effective, constant, integral part of my spiritual life?

Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today”  The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959.  177-180.   © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953.  Print.   Drawing by Albert H Winkler.

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