Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart……yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming. —Luke 18:1, 15
“Mom, when can Sam come over and play? Huh, Mom, Mom, did you hear me? What day can Sam come over? Monday, Tuesday…?” “Lois, Lois, Lois, mom, mom, mom, …mommy, mommy, mama…” I know you parents can identify with that scene from “Family Guy” where uber-annoying Stewie just keeps calling for no apparent reason! You can see it here
Children are experts when it comes to being persistent. And children, like all people, are motivated by their desires and generally, they do not lose heart quickly. Consequently, like the persistent woman in the parable from Luke 18:1–8, they often get their heart’s desire, at least when possible. Hopefully, we parents have the tenacity and courage to resist their persistence in the impulse section of the grocery store and the wherewithal and grace to surrender to it when it comes from a heart’s desire that will provide joy, build character or express love!
As parents and people of faith, we pray that the Way of Jesus is shaping the nature of our desires. If it is, then like children, we are called to be persistent in pursuing love, justice, compassion, and peace. Our gospel lesson this week has a word for us about the nature of our desire and believing that God’s way will prevail.
In Jesus’ day, the responsibility of a judge was to settle disagreements. Disputes involving widows and orphans were not uncommon, as the law did not allow a widow to inherit her husband’s estate, which passed on to the deceased man’s sons or brothers. If these relatives did not act with justice and honor in providing for the widow of their father or brother, a judge was the widow’s last recourse for securing the resources necessary to support life. For those of Jesus’ hearers who were without status in society, a story about a widow with no power and a judge with no compassion might not have seemed shocking. This judge, however, “neither feared God nor had respect for the people” (v. 2). This judge did not simply lack compassion; he was unjust.
Still, in this story the widow’s persistence wins the day. The widow refuses to accept her fate, and the judge is astounded. God’s justice triumphs! The author of Luke interprets Jesus’ parable as being about not losing heart AND about asking boldly and living justly when working against injustice. He suggests that whatever happens, God’s ways will prevail.
Friends, living with such hope and certainty that God’s justice will carry the day is no easy thing in light of our experience of injustice and inequality. Yet the message of Jesus is consistent throughout his ministry and throughout the gospels—God is in God’s house and all will be as God would have it—our task is to be as God would have us be. If we allow Jesus’s Way to shape our desires and our relationships and our actions we will create the Kingdom of God here on earth! As disciples, we are invited to voice our deep longings to God. As disciples, we are called to ask boldly and live justly while seeking the bountiful gifts of God’s reign for all people. As disciples, we are called to pray and live faithfully in the ways of God’s kingdom. Beloved, as disciples, we are called to be persistent in prayer. As disciples, we do not lose heart while waiting and working for the coming of God’s reign. May it be so for us.
Rev. Wendy Miller Olapade, firstname.lastname@example.org