Luke 18: 1-8
This parable would make a great plot for a made for television movie. We have a widow who goes up against a dishonest judge. The widow is persistent in her desire for the judge to make a decision in her case. She initially waited a long time with not ruling by the judge. No doubt the judge wanted this lack of a decision to discourage her from pursuing her case. Instead, she decides to pester him until he makes a decision. He finally gives in and makes a decision because her persistence is disrupting his lifestyle, and even has him wonder if she might act violently against him. These are not the purest motives for making a decision, but they were effective. The judge was not concerned about either justice or the widow. Jesus points out that if this dishonest judge can answer the woman’s request how much more will God respond to our pleas for help.
The lesson for us is three-fold; be persistent in prayer, God’s respond to our needs is out of both love and justice, and we should follow the example of God and be responsive to the needs of others.
There are both needs and struggles in living our faith that can affect our relationship with God. One response is to minimize our faith so as to have very low expectations of what God can do for us. It is important to keep in mind that our Heavenly Father is the perfect, just judge who looks upon us with love and mercy. To be persistent is to never lose trust that God is listening to us and to continue to pray with high expectations that He is attentive to us. This persistence in faith takes moving beyond faith as a feeling, to faith as a gift from God. It is meant to draw us closer to him, and not away from him. Persistence is believing that the needs we put before God will be answered in his time and way. In the letter to the Hebrews we heard that Faith is, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” Persistence is continuing to pray even when the immediate results are unseen.
The second lesson in the parable is that God responds to our needs out of love. God does not act out of obligation, vengeance, or to quiet us so that we won’t disturb him; God acts out of love for us. His love is the unconditional love with no strings attached. We are the ones who have the freedom to accept his love or reject it. He knows our hearts and knows more than we what is needed to bring us true, lasting, and eternal happiness. He sees the whole picture of our lives, while we live one frame at a time. This is not meant to minimize the reality of the anxiety or pain that our struggles might bring us. These are part of our human nature, but it is important to put these into perspective, that in the midst of these, God is lovingly present.
The third lesson can be approached with a few question about who are we more like; God or the unjust judge. When people come to us with a need are we like the judge and put things off, only to help when we are tired of someone pestering us, or are we like God who looks upon the one in need with love? Hopefully we will work to respond as God does, out of love. The three lessons can help us in our own faith lives as we approach God with our prayers.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.