The Gospel text for this Sunday (21st Sunday after Pentecost) is from Luke 18:1-8. This is a parable told by Jesus about a persistent widow and an unjust judge. It is also a parable that contains a haunting question.
We have a judge who neither feared God or cared about people. Basically, he was in it for the money; looking out for number one. We also have a widow who is experiencing an injustice of some kind perpetrated by another. So the widow goes to the judge, but the judge does not want to be bothered with petty things. But unfortunately for this judge, this widow is feisty. She keeps bugging him until finally he grants her the justice she is looking for; just to get her off his back. Jesus then tells his disciples to notice what the UNJUST judge does. Now…how much more will God give justice to His children who cry out to God day and night? "I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly." (18:8)
Now comes the haunting question – one that has always bothered me: "However, (don’t you just hate it when you hear that word) when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (18:8). I hear this nice parable about prayer and not giving up. I am reassured that God does hear my prayers and that they don’t fall on deaf ears. Justice is proclaimed to God’s children. "However… (there’s that word again) "…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth." Now what? Is this a warning not to give up?
I am wondering…
In the Old Testament text, Jacob is wrestling with God and in the end, his persistence is rewarded with a blessing. Had Jacob given up after his hip was "wrenched", I am willing to bet he would not have received the blessing he was looking for. In the Gospel text, the widow is experiencing an injustice, so she cries for help. Had the woman lost faith and given up, the justice she was seeking would not have been given.
Is this a statement about persistence in our faith, not just prayer? I think it might be. Hear me out here. It has been 2000 years since Jesus died and rose and promised to return again. People have prayed and waited for Jesus. But now, are we growing too complacent? Have people grown tired of waiting? Have we grown sick of praying for world peace only to see wars and conflicts escalate? Maybe this text is a reminder that God has not forgotten about us. God has and is granting justice for us through Jesus Christ. And in due time, will we receive the ultimate blessing that has been promised to us. But when Jesus returns, will he find people waiting for him, or will he find people who have given up; who have stopped being persistent?
As Christians we are to continually pray for peace and justice. "Pray without ceasing" we are taught. Seek God. Be still and know that God is God. Don’t grow tired of waiting, but rejoice in the promise. Rejoice in the blessing. This life is but a fleeting moment compared to eternity with God in heaven.
"However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" — I sincerely hope so. This haunting question is now beginning to serve as a proclamation of Good News. Jesus IS coming. God HAS NOT forgotten about us. So…be persistent and know that God is listening. Justice is indeed on the way. Praise God always and forever! Amen!