TO ENCOURAGE DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF SCRIPTURE
“Render a just decision for me against my adversary.” Today’s Gospel features a persistent widow who ekes out justice from a notoriously cold-hearted judge. Why does she win the day? “Because the widow keeps bothering me.” Jesus’ recommendation to the disciples is to be persistent in prayer, because surely God the Father is far more attuned to their needs than this judge. If only it were that easy, right? We’ve all experienced the unanswered prayer, the silence after our cries. When this continues, sometimes it can be difficult to have faith in God or believe He answers prayers. It can be easy to lapse into a sense of His distance. We want Him to do something “fair,” which — in our limited view — typically means that something works out in our favor.
There are, of course, many legitimate cries for justice. We live in a fallen world filled with flawed human beings. We hurt each other, sometimes grievously, and our efforts to remake the world in our image can result in unjust, inhumane systems. Faced with the problem of evil, we may wonder how God will “secure the rights of his chosen ones.” Sometimes, He may well seem “slow to answer them.”
In the face of these very real questions, it’s important to recall the words of the prophet Isaiah, that God’s thoughts “are not [our] thoughts.” His ways are not our ways. God respects the freedom He has given us. When we see what free will has wrought, perhaps we question God’s better judgment! Yet somehow, we hear that He mysteriously works all things for our good. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we are always free to love. We are invited to be persistent in our prayer, to continue bringing our concerns before God in trusting surrender. We are invited to love well in the circumstances we find ourselves in, to be a light in the darkness. No matter when — or if — our prayers are answered the way we would like, we are nonetheless invited to witness to “faith on earth.”