October 20, 2019 at Saint Peter and Saint William Parishes in Naples, FL
Exodus 17, 8-13 + Psalm 121 + 2 Timothy 3, 14 & 4, 2 + Luke 18, 1-8
The widow reveals the power of weakness as we shall soon see when Jesus gets to Jerusalem with his passion, death, and resurrection. In Luke’s Gospel, widows are often seen and heard which might reveal the powerful role these women played in the earliest church. The Judge here is not one of the Jewish elders, but a paid magistrate appointed by the Romans. They were notoriously corrupt, extorting money from people to secure a favorable ruling. This judge is a scoundrel. He may well have taken a bribe from the woman’s oppressor. He is cast as the most unjust of all, becoming for us the polar opposite of what God is. So, the judge is not the point of the story. The woman is, and she provides a revelation about God. While Jesus in telling the story wanted to reveal something about God, Luke is more interested in the widow as an example for us. We need her example still, because too many give up prayer and lose faith.
This persistent widow lives among us still. She is the poor, the helpless victim of injustice. She still stands waiting for justice today in a court system bogged down with a huge backlog of court cases for the poor who cannot afford expert legal help. She faces justices today who jockey for positions behind the scenes and cultivate the favor of those who elect them or the government that appoints them. Suddenly in our time, Justice seems to be either Red or Blue.
Faith and prayer belong together. They are interconnected. Saint Augustine says that “Faith pours out prayer, and the pouring out of prayer sustains and strengthens faith.” He ought to know, because without a life-time of his mother’s prayer, we wouldn’t know who he was. Prayer is answered not when we get what we want, but when we get a sense of God’s nearness with the assurance that God has not abandoned us. Prayer may not change the world for us, but it can give us the courage to face it. The prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane: “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” was not answered. But through that prayer Jesus got the strength to face what was to come.
The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. And the fruit of service is peace. Let’s get started. It is always a good time to pray.