First Reading: Exodus 17: 8-13
Psalm Response: Psalm 121: 1-8
Second Reading: 2Timothy: 3:14-4:2
Gospel: Luke 17: 5-10
The readings for this Sunday show us how God hears us and encourages our growing faith and spirituality. God uses Aaron and Hur who physically support and uplift Moses to encourage the Israelites. God uses Paul to instruct Timothy to grow in faith through knowing the scriptures and continuing to preach the Gospel to God’s people by patience, teaching, convincing and so on.
However, in the parable of the Persistent Widow, God shows us how to be in right relationship with God. The purpose of the parable is to encourage us to persevere in relationship with God and trust God can even work through corruption, abuses of power and dysfunctional systems.
In Biblical times, as now, a judge was expected to be fair and honest – to do justice. Judges hold tremendous power over the lives of people who appear before them in court. Most modern judges run a pretty tight ship where respect and order are valued. Knowing the preferences and protocols of each individual judge is crucial for survival of those within the justice system.
Yet, the judge in the parable is corrupt. He is not only incompetent and unqualified for the job, but has no compassion and admits it. Justice was not being served in his court. A needy widow repeatedly comes before this judge to plead her case probably outside of the protocols of her time. According to Jewish law, widows deserve special protection under the justice system. But this unjust judge ignores her. Nevertheless, she refuses to give up. She is determined to have her day in court and to get what she deserves as a widow. When the widow is finished with this corrupt judge, justice will be served!
Eventually, the judge says to himself, “I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!” The widow gets the justice she was seeking. Then Jesus explains: if an uncaring, unfit, ungodly judge answers with justice in the end, how much more will a loving God give what is right to God’s children?
Being in relationship with God means spending time talking to God through prayer. Prayer is more than simply asking for results. When we pray expecting an immediate result, we are acting as if God is like the unjust judge in the parable. “Give me what I deserve, we pray. Perhaps if I ask enough, I will wear out God’s patience and get what I want.” But, prayer is more than that. It is a relationship, a way of being with God and a way of talking to, listening to and being with God. The parable of the persistent widow shows us that our relationship with God requires us to be faithful and to persist in quieting ourselves and opening ourselves up to our loving, compassionate God. We enter into a space where we fully expect God to answer, perhaps not in the way we want, but trusting God will answer. God expects us to keep on asking, seeking, knocking, and praying until the answers come (Matthew 7:7–8) ever mindful that God is heard as much in the whisper as in the thundering storm. God expects us to be persistent.
Chris Wesselman, Associate