I will be preaching in the Iona Abbey next week and the reading will be based on Luke’s Gospel and the Widow and the Judge. This difficult story about a persistent widow and an unjust judge. (Chapter 18). We’re told in Luke’s account about a widow goes to see a judge about a matter, but the judge refused to hear her case. So what does she do? She pesters him so much it becomes a daily event without ceasing. Finally, perhaps out of exasperation, the judge hears her case, perhaps to just placate her and maybe she will stop her persistent pleas for help. The woman wants justice for a matter and she desires it so eagerly that she is relentless in her pursuit of justice for herself and for the matter that she wants rectified- because it is important to her.
I’ve read a lot of commentary on how we are the widow and God is the judge. I’ve read that it is about perseverance in prayer, never giving up pestering the judge so that our case can be heard. I’ve also heard that “I prayed and prayed. I asked and I asked. I beseeched and I beseeched. And God did not hear my prayer. My prayers went unanswered.”
I disagree. What IF, we are the unjust judge and God is the widow? What if God keeps coming to us, begging to be co-creators in sacred justice with God, and we don’t give God the time of day, pushing God away for another day? And finally when we do, it is to shut God up? What if this passage isn’t about persistence in prayer? If we need only ask for God’s forgiveness once and we receive it, then why would we have to pester God to ‘get what we want.’ Well, I think the Stones said it best ‘You can’t always get what you want…you get what you need.’ WE think we know what we need, but sometimes we’re wrong.
That is not to say we should not be persistent in prayer. We should. But, what if God is coming to us, begging for humanity to pay attention to God’s justice? Is it hard for us to see God as a vulnerable, marginalised woman rather than a judge?
God eagerly desires for us to be ‘co-creators of justice, justice and joy’ so how can we be better at listening to the voices we don’t want to hear…even if it is God’s?