Why is it that each week when I look at the lectionary texts, my first reaction is to groan?
Sunday, October 21, 2007 – Lectionary 29C
Then Jesus told them 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?”
Persistence is what moves the judge. Is God like the judge or not? It seems as though parts of the reading suggest that God is like the judge, moved by persistence rather than mercy. Other parts of the reading seem to suggest that God is more merciful than the judge, so if persistence can move the judge, how much more will God be moved by our persistence. Maybe this really is not so much about God as it is the need for persistence in prayer. But the challenge with that is that if we don’t “succeed” in prayer are we to assume that we weren’t persistent enough? There is not much that seems grace-filled in this passage. It all depends upon the persistence of the one making the prayer … not on the one hearing the prayer.
Luke is the only Gospel writer with this “parable”.
The focus of part of the passage is justice. God gives justice. I’ll have to do some more digging about what that means in this context. Are faith and persistence related? How quick are we to lose heart? I’m still troubled by the implication that if we are persistent enough we will get what we want … although it says that we will be granted justice, not what we want.
Once again, I’m glad that I have the better part of a week to wrestle with this one.