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Lent 7: Prayer
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Hi <<First Name>>,

 

In this week’s Living Lent study we focus on a parable of Jesus about a tenacious woman who is passionate about justice.


Reading

Luke 18:1-8

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. 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. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’
 


Reflection


Although Jesus frames the parable with reference to prayer, it is also laced with themes of justice (mentioned four times in this short parable). 

Firstly, we are told that there is a judge with no regard for God or concern for the marginalised and vulnerable, unlike the people of Israel are instructed to be (see Ex 22:22; Deut 10:18; Ps 68:5; Is 1:17; Jer 22:3).  And yet, because of the widow’s persistent advocacy, even this pagan judge caves and provides justice for her.  The contrast is then made with God (vs. 7).  The parable suggests tension in the timing of God’s response.  While God will act quickly (vs. 8), he will respond after a period or rather, at the right time.  This provides encouragement to the disciples to continue to pray and ask for God, who loves justice (Ps 33:5), to act justly concerning unjust situations, events and people. Even though it may seem like the response is slow, God will act for justice at the right time.   
 


The widow is someone with no power or wealthy influence, who has no recourse but her own advocacy.  Her desire is for justice (vs. 3).  This imitates Jesus’ concern for justice (Lk 7:29; 11:42).  But what is justice?  Broadly speaking when we look through a theological or biblical lens at a situation or event or relationship and think to ourselves, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, then we may characterise that as just. Conversely, when we, with the mind of Christ, look at situations and think, “that’s not the way it’s supposed to be,” then we may conclude that it’s unjust and requires our advocacy or intervention.  In other words, it’s like praying “your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). 

This parable encourages us to cry out to God for the injustices we face, and which others face.  Such trust in God and loyalty to things that God is passionate about is expressed in our faith.  Faith is what the Son of Man will be looking for when he comes.  But this is not just a faith that sits back and does nothing, rather it is faith in action.  The widow searches for justice and eventually she finds it.  But the reality of the parable is that her quest for justice was not an easy one.  The implication is that sometimes our prayers for justice will not be easy. Sometimes prayer is difficult because it requires an ongoing commitment and perseverance.  But we must pray and act for justice, as Jesus did.
 


Prayer
 

God, give us the tenacity to pursue the things that you are passionate about, such as justice.  May we emulate the example of the widow and not give up in seeking for justice in our world.  May we consistently turn to you and act as you would have us act, that we may make things right, the way they’re supposed to be, as you intended. 

Amen.
 
Next up, we look at the cross of Jesus in Luke’s gospel and see what that reveals about the character of God.

Until then,

Sean

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