A reading from the gospel according to Luke 18:1-8
1 Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
2 He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
3 And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
4 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,
5 because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’”
6 The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
7 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?
8 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?”
Reflection: Non-Stop Prayer
The gospel reading above speaks about four topics namely: widows, justice, prayer and faith. Let us take a closer look at them.
1. The gospel of St. Luke is filled with stories of widows. At the beginning of his gospel, we read in chapter 2 about the Prophetess Anna who was also a widow. She prayed night and day and eventually, she was given the privilege to see first hand Baby Jesus and spoke about Him to other people. In Chapter 4, Jesus mentioned the Old Testament widow who provided food to Prophet Elias. Later in Chapter 7, Jesus encountered a widow in the city of Nain and brought her dead son back to life. Fast forward to Chapter 21, Jesus observed a widow putting two coins into the treasury and praises her for giving all that she had for the temple.
Without their husband to help and protect them, widows are vulnerable. They are often marginalized especially in a society that discriminates against women. Yet, Saint Luke portrays them as examples of great faith and humility. In the reading above, Jesus uses a widow as an example of persistence especially in the pursuit of justice.
Indeed, there is something to learn from others even those we consider ignorant or below our social status. Like Jesus, let us look after these marginalized people and let them live with dignity.
2. There is so much to be desired about justice in the world nowadays. More often than not, those we expect to dispense justice are the ones who cause injustice and the usual victims are the have-nots. How often do we hear that justice in many parts of the world are for sale to the highest bidder. In our gospel reading, it takes the persistence of a widow for justice to be granted. The unjust judge was fearful of a widow! This goes to show that ordinary people even the most vulnerable ones can make a difference in the world. We look forward to the day when the illusive justice will prevail everywhere. That day will come when everyone has fear, not of his or her neighbor but of God.
3. In Luke Chapter 11, when His apostles asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them the “Our Father”, a short prayer but complete in itself. Then he followed it up with the story of the persistent person who goes to his neighbor-friend at the middle of the night to ask for food. Eventually, just like in the story of the widow above, his persistence paid off.
Jesus has often emphasized the need for prayer. He Himself made sure He has time to pray. May we never stop praying.
4. The gospel reading above ends with a question on faith. “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” Jesus wanted us to see that our prayer must be coupled with faith. The widow was persistent because she believed in the righteousness of her cause. She displayed faith by not giving up even when she knew she was confronting a powerful person.
Moreover, Jesus wanted to show us that faith may come from unexpected places or people. The gospels are filled with very ordinary people like widows who unexpectedly showed great faith but not from the usual religious groups who claimed to be righteous.
So we can personalize the question: When Jesus comes again, will He find faith in you?
The bible is filled with verses about prayer and the need for persistence in prayer. In fact, the gospel reading above is entitled The Parable of Persistent Prayer although in most bible versions, it is called The Parable of the Unjust Judge. It tells us to keep praying day and night and God in His mercy and in His perfect time, He will grant us our petition.
Saint Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). For God is sometimes silent when we pray. It is possible that God does not always give us what we pray for but it does not mean He does not listen to us anymore. He knows what is good for us and perhaps what we are asking Him is not what is best for us. It is therefore necessary that we pray and not lose heart.
Life has its ups and downs. When we are down, it doesn’t mean we are hopeless. It could mean it is time to come closer to our Father in heaven and to trust Him even more. We often hear the words that there is a reason for everything. Indeed, even in our darkest moment, God will come to redeem us and to let us see his glory. How true it is that those who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything.
The last verse in the reading above mentions Jesus asking us if we still have faith when he comes back. For in the midst of great tribulations, it is easy to be discouraged. That is why, we need to keep the faith through non-stop prayer.