AD SENSE

32nd Week, Saturday, Nov 14

 3 John 5-8 / Luke 18:1-8 

On November 16, 1989, a horrifying injustice occurred in El Salvador against two powerless people and their six significantly more powerful companions.  Yet persistence has brought little justice. 

Despite the persistent pleas for justice around the world, including tremendous efforts from the Society of Jesus, justice has not been served in the case of the UCA martyrs.  Low-level military personnel who carried out the orders of superior officers were imprisoned briefly, but those who ordered the murders have not been punished. 

An unjust judge does not fear God or respect people when a powerless widow with no legal rights asks for legal protection.  This scenario does not inspire confidence that the widow will receive justice.  Yet her persistence prevails.  The unjust judge recognizes that his life will be better if the widow receives what she is asking for.  In this case, enlightened self-interest leads to justice. 

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Travelling overseas, either for work or study or leisure, can be a chore for some people, especially when it comes to packing their luggage. If they could, they would want to bring along everything that is at home, so that they can feel secure and comfortable in a foreign land, even if it is only for a week.

And it can be anything from medicine to books to electronic gadgets, from hair-dryers to mini kettles, all of which might be available in the land of destination. For the missionaries of the Church, as they go forth to a foreign land to spread the Good News, it is usually in a land that does not have the comforts and the securities of their own homeland.

The 1st reading assures such missionaries of God's providence as it states that it is the duty of the Church to welcome such missionaries in charity and even to contribute a share to their work. But even if there is a dire lack of resources and support, then we have to heed what Jesus said about the need to pray continually and not to lose heart.

The gospel parable tells us that the perseverance and the persistence of the lowly widow eventually made the arrogant and proud judge give in to her request. Yes, we have to persevere and persist in our prayer when we are in a desperate need. Yet, we also must remember that we are paying God a great compliment when we ask great things that are to be used for His glory. That must be the faith that we should have as we persevere and persist in our prayer.

Keeping at it

In a crisis, most of us will go the extra mile (Mt 5:41), sometimes, but today’s Gospel asks for fidelity over the long haul, not the single heroic act but the persistence to stay with the daily routine of duty, whatever that may be, given our age, our job and our local, familial or pastoral obligations to others. What we are expected to do is ordinary, but it takes God’s extraordinary grace to keep at it.

The gospel addresses this paradox of seemingly getting nowhere and yet accomplishing very much, exemplified in the widow who kept coming to the judge, demanding her rights. Finally she wore him out, and so the judge settled matters in her favour. Monica, the mother of St Augustine, is patroness of persistent people. We can accomplish very much by a faithful, daily routine.

This final verse in the gospel is probably a later addition to the original parable about the widow. No other parable in the gospels ends with such a a question-mark as “When he comes, will he find faith on the earth?”. The editor added this “floating” remark which questions the quality of our faith. Originally it referred to danger of apostasy during the persecutions but it can also question us, here and now. What are we (or what am I) doing to promote faith, love and justice, in imitation of Christ? To live our faith today we need the persistence of the widow who simply would not give up. And are our church leaders fostering faith as well as they could?


Not giving up

A courageous widow went to court before a judge who respected neither God nor man, but kept up her plea until she got justice at last. She embodies the kind of faith the Lord wants to see in us. At the end he asks the question, ‘When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

When he comes as judge, will be find a faith that refuses to give up, even when many traditional beliefs have fallen away. In these difficult times for our church, there is a strong temptation to discouragement. But to be a true believer is to be persistent. The supreme example of persistence in face of contradiction is Jesus himself, who remained faithful to the end. The widow is a kind of Jesus figure showing us how to persevere.

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Lord our God, we know that you are our loving Father, that you wait for us and that you are attentive to us every moment of our lives. Let then our prayer come to you as a breath of hope and a cry of trust coming from the poverty of our hearts. If you have to turn us down when we ask for harmful or useless things, give us what we really need and keep our trust alive that you are good and loving for you love us in Jesus Christ our Lord.