Wednesday, October 13, 2010

gospel Text for Sunday, October 17th

Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, "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.' For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, `Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'" And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 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. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"


  1. How could Jesus promise justice “quickly”? How dare he give us this expectation when we are in pain, when we are in desperate circumstances? Does Jesus not understand that we build our hope on relief from pain, from distress? This word “quickly” irritates me, because I want my petitions answered now.
    I looked back what comes before this parable in Luke's presentation of the gospel. I see something there that changes my perspective. Jesus was talking about another “quickly” in 17:20-37, the coming of the Son of Man that would be “like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.” What does lightening do? What is Jesus emphasizing here? It illumines. It reveals everything, in a flash. It breaks the darkness of night or the shadow of clouds and shows me where I stand in the circle of the world. So, perhaps Jesus' “quickly” in the text before us is like that, not a fix of circumstances but a brilliant illumination of the greater, grander work of the Son. I see where I stand, not before a judge who can at best grant short term escape, not immobilized in the darkness of my circumstances, but in the light of God's eternal day. Now I have hope.

  2. I love the image of the persistent widow demanding justice from the malevolent judge. Women in ancient Israel had little or no status or authority. They lived under the authority and in accord with the status of their father’s before marriage and their husbands after marriage. Widows, presumably with neither father nor husband, were among the most vulnerable and of the least status.

    So the very fact that Jesus made a widow the “heroine” of his parable is radical. Not only was Jesus violating Hebrew Testament laws that prescribed women’s inferior status but he also gave voice to the widow sufficient to speak truth to power and prevail! Jesus imagined a world radically different from the one in which he lived, and he imagined it into existence in his stories. Much like the widow in his parable, over and over and over again Jesus, the Nazarene peasant, spoke words of truth to power (sometimes veiled in stories).

    The thing is, Jesus told this parable to his disciples and he is telling it to me today. It makes me more than a little uncomfortable. I have to ask myself, whose pleas for justice do I not hear? Who are the marginalized people in my church and my community whose needs and wants are unheard? How am I to act without delay to hear and help them?

    Lord Jesus come quickly and help this deaf disciple to be an instrument of Your compassion and justice.