– Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications, Macau
The readings today help us to reflect on prayer. Why are we invited to turn to him with insistence? What is the meaning of prayer? To these questions Jesus responds today with a parable of an unjust judge.
Who is the unjust judge? Who is the widow? To understand this we need to know the historical juncture in which the words are spoken.
We are in the 80s of the first century, when, in Asia Minor, a very violent persecution starts. Emperor, Domitian claims that all should adore him as a god. The pagan religious institutions have surrendered. The Christians do not. They cannot—as the book of Revelation says (Rev 13)—bow before the “beast” (the Domitian divo) and for this, they undergo harassment and discrimination.
Now it’s clear who the widow of the parable is: it is the church of Luke, the church whose Spouse is taken away; it is this community that awaits his coming, even though she may not know the day or the hour of his return and that each day, with insistence, she is pleading: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).
The Lord is answering the dilemma of the Lukan community. He makes a rhetoric question, “And will God not give justice to his chosen ones who day and night cry to him!” followed by a peremptory affirmation, “Yes, I tell you, he will bring justice to them soon; even if he makes them wait for long.”
A major temptation of Christians is to get discouraged and in the face of a long wait for the Spouse who delays and tolerates injustice. Seeing the inexplicable slowness of the judge, the widow could have resigned and despaired to the fate of not obtaining justice one day. The Lord alerts the community against this danger represented by discouragement and resignation to the thought that the Spouse is not coming any more to render justice. He will surely come, but will he find his chosen ones ready to welcome him? To someone, his slowness could cause a loss of faith!
Here is the message of the parable: pray. Jesus has told so—says the evangelist—to inculcate the belief that it is necessary to pray always, without ceasing. Prayer is being in constant conversation and consultation with the Lord. Keep the arms of prayer raised to the Lord until evening, until the battle over discouragement is won!