So I’m sitting in my office late Saturday afternoon — the day before Palm Sunday — at a loss for what to write for my Lenten reflection. Scanning Luke’s Gospel, my attention is caught by a parable recorded only by Luke, that Jesus tells just before he enters Jerusalem. I decide I will write about the parable and start to type, when suddenly I hear the sound of voices out in front of the church. Looking out my window, I see what looks like a brand new black car pulled over at the side of the road directly in front of the church. A woman in the driver’s seat is yelling at the top of her lungs at a man sitting in the passenger seat. The only words I make out are, “You’re a liar; you’re a liar!” The man is looking away from the woman. Perhaps he sees me watching from out through my office window; I’m not sure, but he looks embarrassed. He says something quietly and gestures for the woman to drive on, which, angrily she does.
It occurs to me that most of us have been in that disturbed space that the couple was dwelling in; I am glad I am not there now.
So I turn back to the parable (Luke 18:1-8). It is introduced as being about the need of the disciples “to pray always and not to lose heart.” A poor widow faces some injustice in her life, and the judge with jurisdiction over her is described as neither fearing God nor having respect for human beings. Nonetheless, the widow keeps showing up at his doorstep, crying out, “Grant me justice against my opponent.”
At first the judge ignores her completely, but eventually he gets so worn out by her “continual coming” that he gives in and grants her justice.
It is a strange little parable, evoked in Jesus’ mind perhaps by the distress he was experiencing knowing that within a week or so he would be dying on a cross. The powers in charge in Jerusalem were not interested in the cause of justice nor willing to be humbled before God.
The little vignette I just witnessed reminds me that the world continues to be broken on so many levels.
Jesus concludes by saying, “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.”
When exactly this will happen, only God knows, but we are assured that in the end, our cries will be heard.
Jesus finishes up saying, “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” — faith apparently like unto the quality manifest by the poor widow who refuses either to give in to the ways things are, or to give up hope.
Dear Jesus, as we ponder the brokenness of our lives and the injustice of this world, grant us faith — persistence in prayer and in action as we seek to do your will and wait for your kingdom. Bless the couple who appeared momentarily in front of your house, and every troubled soul, and bring the reconciliation to every broken relationship. Amen.