Twenty-NinthSunday in Ordinary Time
Old people’s prayer is a gift
At Rephidim, 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. Ex 17,8-13
In her last days, grandma’ Betta got up from her bed very difficultly, after giving her energy for years in order to help us with our family management. She stayed there and prayed for all of us, while we were fighting our daily fight at home, at the office, at the university and at school. We were all aware of the importance of that prayer and therefore, in the morning, we did not forget to pay her a visit and ask her to pray for us before leaving home. It is the same scene as in today’s reading. During forty years walking through the desert, Israel had to fight many battles, mostly against the tribe of Amalèk. Moses was already old, as grandma’ Betty was, and did not lead the battle, sending Joshua in his place. Nevertheless, he does not stand outside the battle, but, together with Aaron and Hur, he takes part into it by praying with his arms raised up to the sky. Until he is as strong as to keep his arms up, Israel wins, but when he lowers them down off tiredness, Israel starts losing. Aaron and Hur become aware of this, and they support Moses’s arms until sunset, so that Joshua can win his battle against Amalèk. This event from the book of Exodus is considered as the symbol of praying for intercession. It shows the way a person who cannot fight the life battles directly (since he or she is old, ill or absent) can all the same take part into them and being the hidden master of victory. Nowadays, Christian families also do not realise that it is a gift from God having at home an old person who, notwithstanding his or her strength is declining, has time to pray for everybody. Doctor Candia, after building and starting his leprosy in Amazonia, wanted a community of four nuns to live there, with the only duty to pray for the doctors, the ill people and the daily routine in the hospital. “It is our source of energy, our generator” he said every time he could. Give us, oh Lord, to understand the importance of old people’s prayer, and to realise how many a battle won on earth are actually won in heaven.