Weekly Church Service – Pentecost 19: 20 October 2019

Will not God grant justice to those who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? Luke 18:7-8

Lord, tireless guardian of your people,
teach us to rely, day and night, on your care.
Drive us to seek your justice and your help,
and support our prayer lest we grow weary,
for in you alone is our strength.
We make our prayer through your Son, 
our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy 
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

  • Jeremiah 31:27-34
  • Psalm 119:97-104
  • 2 Tim 3:10-4:5
  • Luke 18:1-14

next week

  • Joel 2:23-32
  • Psalm 65
  • 2 Tim 4:6-8, 16-18
  • Luke 18:15-30

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

“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 …’”

The judge in Jesus’ parable read today is not one of the Jewish elders but a paid magistrate appointed by the Roman governors.  These magistrates were notoriously corrupt, extorting money from plaintiffs to secure favourable verdicts.  The widow, typically defenceless in such dealings, persists until the judge just wants to be rid of her.

Jesus does not liken God to the unfeeling, insensitive judge but contrasts
God to him:  If such persistence will finally move such an unfeeling and corrupt figure will not the God of mercy and love be moved by the cries of his own beloved people?  The parable of the widow and the unjust judge (found only in Luke’s Gospel) calls us to perseverance in prayer – prayer that seeks not to force God’s hand but prayer that opens our hearts and minds to his always available grace.

The “persistence” of God’s love for us transcends our own doubts, our distractions, our hurts and disappointments.  We are always embraced in the heart of God, an embrace we experience in the love of others; we are always held in God’s memory, remembered in every moment of forgiveness and healing.  

Today’s Gospel challenges us to see the “persistent widows” in our midst: to recognize their struggles and the gifts they possess that we overlook or discount.  Christ promises that the Father hears the worthy prayer of the Gospel widow in her many guises and that her perseverance in faith will one day be rewarded — and Jesus challenges us to put aside our obliviousness and self-absorption and see her.  In her many guises, she is Christ in our midst.   

Sometimes we are the persistent widow of today’s parable, persevering in seeking what is right and just, trusting in God’s grace in response to our prayer – and sometimes we find ourselves in the role of the judge, who can be the answer to another’s prayer if we stop, listen, and realize that God has given us the means to respond. 

We possess a faith that empowers us with hope and discernment, enabling us to persevere despite the injustices and indignities that are so much a part of life.  Jesus assures us that the integrity, commitment to justice and humility we maintain in the face of scepticism, rationalizations and the amoral “conventional wisdom” will one day be exalted by God.

Jesus’ parable of the dishonest judge challenges us to consider how we use whatever power we possess, how we employ the authority entrusted to us by others:  Do we use our power in the service of others?  Do we exercise our authority to create community and to provide for those who are struggling or lost? © Connections/MediaWorks

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