Luke presents us with another beautiful parable on faith. There is a judge who is presumably fearless before God and man and refuses to grant justice to a widow. The widow is persistent in going to the judge and asking for justice to be done. From a first reading one would be inclined to think that justice is the main issue at hand but the persistence of the widow in repeatedly going to the judge in search of justice is in fact an act of faith. The judge eventually grants justice to the widow for selfish reasons: he does not want the widow to wear him out and thus realises that it would in fact be in his best interest to grant her justice. The widow would stop coming to him and he would have a peace of mind. Jesus’ focus is on the persistence of the widow which is an expression of her faith. Through this parable Jesus teaches us that justice is really the only genuine reason for being persistent; careful reflection reveals that any other reason for being persistent reveals a heart that is self-seeking. A question that I often times ask is whether or not persons are being faithful or stubborn when they express themselves as not giving up or not throwing in the towel. It is not uncommon to hear persons express their refusal to leave their particular church or denomination. “No one is going to move me from here!” is their claim. There was a time when such words from members of the Church gave me a feeling of confidence but this is no longer the case for me. For some time now I have begun to challenge such statements: Is this person speaking from a perspective of faith or is the individual speaking from a stubborn heart? We should note that the judge was also being very persistent in refusing the widow her justice and ultimately, the reality is that wrong actions will always reap negative consequences. The judge saw himself eventually becoming worn out from his wrong actions of denying the widow her justice. The widow on the other hand only saw herself receiving justice because of her firm belief in the goodness of God. Jesus therefore asks, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” (Luke 18:7-8a) Persistence in search of justice will be rewarded; this is the assurance that Jesus gives. The parable leaves us to ponder where we stand in relation to it’s message. Are we like the judge refusing to grant others what rightfully belongs to them? If no, then maybe we are like the judge who only act justly because there is something in it for us. Then of course there is the side of the widow that some of us or all of us may identify with. We keep on praying for justice; but do we really
identify with the widow? Persistence was not expressed verbally by the widow: she got up and literally went to the judge again and again in search of justice. Do we identify with the widow because we find ourselves persistently asking and searching for justice? Remember, persistence can be stubborn or it can be faithful. Are we persistently stubborn or persistently faithful?
We may be very good at not denying others what truly belongs to them but human beings very often only take action in matters that are beneficial to themselves. The widow was persistent and she was also faithful. Recognising that she was right in what she was asking for did not move her to become callous in her behaviour. Her persistence was rooted in her conviction that God would not abandon nor forsake his people. The tension between a stubborn faith and faithful persistence confronts each of us everyday. It would do us well to remember to whom we belong and in whom we believe.