Daily Office Readings for Friday, November 20, 2020:
In the story of the widow and the unjust judge, we are reminded to pray always and not lose heart. That’s been a bit hard to do in 2020, hasn’t it?
The response of the judge is unexpected. When any of us have been in a situation where justice has not prevailed, there’s a point where we all feel as though we have been spinning our wheels and we wonder why we are still pursuing whatever is troubling us. There’s a point where we even ask ourselves why we bother.
In the widow’s case, she literally has nowhere to go. Widows have zero status in the Palestine of Jesus. The fact that Jesus used her as the object of his story must have felt odd to his listeners.
But, as the saying goes, “Nevertheless she persisted.” In some ways, she was lucky. Justice prevailed in her lifetime. I’m not sure all justice prevails in a single lifetime–in fact, I’m convinced that in most arenas where justice is sorely lacking, we will go to our graves waiting to see it come to fruition..
If we look back, most forms of justice do not come to fruition in a person’s lifetime. If we look at the ongoing battles against “isms” and the evolution away from phobias (in this case, xenophobia and homophobia in particular) most of these gains did not happen in a single lifetime–and many are still ongoing. Many of us will go to our graves waiting for justice. Yet, in each of our lives we all get to see something, even if we have to be “eyes wide open” to see it. I think all of us can recount at least one instance where we saw some sort of justice be done.
In the end, what stands out is Jesus’ own words at the end of this passage. “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Jesus is not expecting for us to have solved all the problems of humankind upon his return. He’s not even expecting us to know for certain what all the injustices are. He only asks us to live in hope and faith that there will come a day when all has been rectified, and work like we believe that day will come.
In the meantime, part of daily living into hope and faith is to be persistent. Keep bringing injustice to both God and the powers and authorities who have the ability to make change. Sometimes it takes repeating the facts. Sometimes it takes telling “our story”, whatever that may be. Sometimes it means simply showing-up, in a time showing-up has zero reward. As the reading today emphasises, sometimes the wall falls in, and it happens in a way we can see it, in our time.
How are you like the persistent widow? What might each of us lift up in prayer address the resignation and sadness that we are living in, every day, in this strange world of a pandemic?
Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, MO, and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as the Interim Pastor at Christ Episcopal Church, Rolla, MO.