29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us a parable about prayer. We know that parables are stories, little mysteries that invite us to ask questions: what more can Jesus mean?
“In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’
There are two people in this parable: a judge--someone who is supposed to make decisions about what is right and what is wrong; and a widow--a woman whose husband has died.
In Jesus' time, a woman was supposed to be cared for by a man. If she had a problem, a man should speak up for her. A woman whose husband had died would have lost the man most likely to speak up for her. So we know that this woman is in serious trouble. She has a problem, and no one to speak for her. She turns to the judge for help.
What does she know about the judge? She knows he has the power to help her. She is certain of this. She has faith.
Does he help her? Not at first. She keeps asking and asking and eventually he decides to help her,
"because this widow keeps bothering me"
He helps her because he is getting worn down by her pestering!
St. Luke tells us that this parable is about praying. So, let's think. Who could the widow be like? Who has serious problems?
People who are sick. People who are alone. People who are in situations that are too difficult to solve on their own. You can name more people, I think, who have problems too big to sort out on their own. People we love. Sometimes even ourselves.
The widow turns to the judge because she knows he has the power to help. If this parable is about praying, who are we supposed to turn to? The One with the power to help.
But is the judge like God? Does he sound like God to you? Does God help only when God gets sick of hearing us ask for help? Yikes! I don't think so. And Jesus says, no:
"And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them."
His chosen ones. It is so good to be chosen, isn't it?
So why do we need to be like the widow, crying to God "day and night"? Doesn't God already know what we need? I think of the sheep that was lost crying out, "I'm lost!" Doesn't the Good Shepherd already know that? Of course he does.
But Jesus says it is important, so it must be.
"And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
We need to have faith like the widow did, that the One with the Power will help. We need to turn our eyes towards that power so that when God comes, we are ready--we will see the help we have been praying for.