A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke:
Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, “There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.'”
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
This is one of those parables that has always puzzled me.
Here is Christ Who is God Himself, telling a parable about a widow, the least important and most oppressed member of His society, pestering an unjust and unloving judge. The widow represents the beloved children of God. The unjust judge represents God.
God is telling a story in which the children of God are helpless with nothing to do but pester, and God is a bad guy.
Why would he do such a thing?
I suppose because He knew that that’s the way it seems for us here on the ground.
Here, in the Valley of Shadow, it seems like God respects no one. You couldn’t get an audience with God if you tried. God wastes his time lavishing favors on superficial people who get online and brag with that odious “blessed” hashtag about their houses and brand new cars and obnoxiously good health. The rest of us could go fly a kite for all He takes notice. We’re the dirtiest and least important, and He doesn’t care.
That’s not what we are, and that’s not what God is. We are the beloved children made in His image and likeness. God is everywhere present and filling all things. God suffers in His beloved, that is us, when we suffer, and every time we have a consolation it’s from Him. Sometimes He even manages to work some genuine miracles right here on this fallen earth, and I think that if we allowed Him He would do so much more frequently. And the day is coming when He will return in a different way, with justice for the whole earth, and all flesh shall see it together. But God knows that He doesn’t usually seem like this to us.
So He ordered us that, when the day comes that we feel that way, we should go ahead and pester.
God will remain right here being God. God never changes. But when we can’t experience Him as anything other than an angry capricious judge, we persist.
Keep crying out to God against the injustice of it all– and it is all very unjust. Ours is not supposed to be a faith that pretends everything is just fine. This world is deeply unjust. It is unjust that any of God’s creatures should have to suffer the way that we do. The injustice of the world ought to sicken you. If it does, this is a mark of God’s image in you. Cry out against this injustice with a thousand tongues, and if you find a way in which you can make it better for somebody, do. If you hear the cry of the poor in somebody else, give them justice whenever you can. Go on being what you think God ought to be whenever you can manage, while you wait for Him to wake up and care about you again.
The Judge who doesn’t seem to be answering is present in you, after all, and in all of us. We bear His icon; we are tabernacles of His Presence. If we acted in obedience to the Presence of that just Judge, we would all be fighting for justice for the oppressed at all times. The fact that we don’t do as He commands to one another, is in great part why God seems so cruel and unjust.
That’s our sin, not His. But He knew it would look like His, and so in His great humility He told this parable.
When you have every reason to believe that God is completely unjust and cares nothing for you, keep seeking justice and demanding His response. That is what faith is.
But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the Earth?
(image via pixabay)
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