THE PARABLE OF THE WIDOW AND THE JUDGE
(A biblical reflection on the 29th Ordinary Sunday, 17 October, 2010)
Gospel Reading: Lk 18:1-8
First Reading: Ex 17:8-13; Psalms: Ps 121:1-8; Second Reading: 2Tim 3:14-4-2
Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged. “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that same town who kept coming to him and pleading for her rights, saying, ‘Help me against my opponent!’ For a long time the judge refused to act, but at least he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect man, yet because of all the trouble this widow is giving me, I will see to it that she gets her rights. If I don’t, she will keep on coming and finally wear me out!’ ”
And the Lord continues, “Listen to what that corrupt judge said. Now, will God not judge in favor of His own people who cry to Him day and night for help? Will He be slow to help them? I tell you, He will judge in their favor and do it quickly. But will the Son of Man find faith on earth when He comes?” (Lk 18:1-8 TEV).
The widow in this parable did not have any male protector, she did not have other resources either. So, she sought out ‘someone’ who could help her.
The fact that the ‘someone’ was an unscrupulous judge did not deter her one bit. After all, she was only asking for her rights! The widow’s apparently strong sense of right and and wrong gave her the courage of her convictions. She was never side-tracked by worry and fear, but kept going until justice was done.
The lesson for us is clear enough: If a helpless (but persistent) individual can compel an unworthy judge to make a just decision, how confident we must be that a just God will intervene for “his own people who cry to Him day and night for help”! (Lk 18:7). Jesus assures us, “I tell you, He will judge in their favor and do it quickly” (Lk 18:8). Together with the psalmist we can also chant, “My help will come from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let you fall; your Protector is always awake. The Protector …never dozes or sleeps. The LORD will guard you; He is by your side to protect you. The sun will not hurt you during the day, nor the moon during the night. The LORD will protect you from all danger; He will keep you safe. He will protect you as you come and go now and for ever” (Ps 121:2-8).
Quickly? This is not the word many of us would have chosen to describe how God answers our prayers. A thousand years may be like one day for God (see Ps 90:4). For us, though, one day can feel like a thousand years, especially when we do not have anything else, except waiting and waiting! But this “delay” works to our benefit, giving us respeated opportunities to lift our minds to the heavenly things. God certainly knows what we need , even before we ever ask. It is through our persevering prayer, however, that He prepares our hearts to receive more that we ever hoped or dreamed. Prayer enlarges our expexctations.
This particular parable calls us “to pray and never become discrouraged” (Luk 18:1). It urges us not to focus on our own limitations, but to come boldly into our heavenly Father’s presence to intercede for ourselves and our families, for local and global events, and even for our enemies. Our Father in heaven is pleased when we join His Son and all the angels and saints who cry to Him day and night, knowing He will bring justice. As we pray like this, He will answer us in ways we cannot even begin to imagine. And in the process, He will form us into just the kind of faith-filled people the Son of Man will be looking for when He comes again (see Lk 18:8).
Short prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for listening to my cries. You are the LORD of all creation and the Guardian of my soul. You neither slumber nor sleep. Father, I place my trust in You. Amen.
Jakarta, 16 October 2010 [Memorial of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690)]
A Christian Pilgrim