The murderous events of last night in Paris have shocked and are shocking people around the world. The cowardice of terrorism, the number of victims, the systematic and merciless brutality; all these things can shock, scare us, and make us lose heart. Yet, in today gospel reading from Luke we see Jesus intent in teaching the disciples ‘about the need to pray continually and to never lose heart’ (18:1).
‘Pray continually’. We need to shake off of ourselves any lukewarm attitude to prayer. This morning we hold in prayer before God those of have died in the terrorist attacks last night, and we also bring to him prayers for the injured, the bereaved, for politicians and emergency services, and yes, also prayers for the terrorists. But prayer for others should not stop at the end of this Mass. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal; and it is through persistent prayer, continual intercession for others, that we can change the world.
‘Never lose heart’. Recently I have been preaching about Christian hope, and the call from Jesus to never lose heart is precisely a call to unremittingly place our only hope in God – even in the moments of deep darkness and trouble. As difficult as this may seem at times, we must regularly – perhaps daily – renew our hope in our loving Father, in our own words, or using familiar prayers, or the words of the psalms which contain many prayerful expressions of hop in God. For example, these words of complete trust from Psalm 39 which came to me as I was gathering may thoughts for Mass;
And now, O Lord, what do I wait for?