Persevere

Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. 
He said, “There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being. 
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
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, 
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.’” 
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. 
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? 
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?”
(Luke 18:1-8)   

Scripture Study

18:1–8. The parable of the unjust judge is a very eloquent lesson about the effectiveness of persevering, confident prayer. It also forms a conclusion to Jesus’ teaching about watchfulness, contained in the previous verses (17:23–26). Comparing God with a person like this makes the point even clearer: if even an unjust judge ends up giving justice to the man who keeps on pleading his case, how much more will God, who is infinitely just, and who is our Father, listen to the persevering prayer of his children. God, in other words, gives justice to his elect if they persist in seeking his help.[1]

18:3 a widow: Widows were often powerless and vulnerable in ancient society, and many were supported by fellow Israelites (Deut 26:12). Both Jesus and Luke take a compassionate interest in their plight (2:37; 4:25–26; 7:12; 20:47; 21:3).

18:5 her continual coming: The parable encourages persistent prayer (18:1). As the widow pleaded for justice, so we should persevere in faith and tirelessly petition God for our needs (Rom 12:12; 1 Thess 5:17).

18:6 the unrighteous judge: His indifference to the widow’s distress was a violation of justice (Deut 27:19). The parable’s outcome is thus a mere shadow of God’s concern for us. If an unjust and callous judge will vindicate a persevering widow, the Father will much more come to the aid of his prayerful children (Sir 35:12–17).[2]

 

Reflection

“Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.”

Recalling the interactions of Jesus and the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, we know that Jesus goes off to pray and he asks the disciples to stay near him while he prayed. After an hour of intense prayer, Jesus returns to find his disciples asleep. Did they fall asleep because it was dark, or late, or that they had just eaten food and wine of the Passover meal, or was it the emotional stress of dealing with Jesus impending prediction of his death? What caused them to be weary?

Weariness can come in many forms and with many intentions. In this lesson, Jesus is warning the disciples to remain firm in the faith, as faith and prayer go hand in hand. St Augustine comments, “In order to pray, let us believe; and for our faith not to weaken, let us pray. Faith causes prayer to grow, and when prayer grows our faith is strengthened” (Sermon, 115).

Our Lord has promised his Church that it will remain true to its mission until the end of time (cf. Mt 28:20); the Church, therefore, cannot go off the path of the true faith. But not everyone will remain faithful: some will turn their backs on the faith of their own accord. In this way our Lord warns us, to help us stay watchful and persevere in the faith and in prayer even though people around us fall away.

 

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

[1] Saint Luke’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 152.
[2] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 140.