Emmitsburg Council of Churches


  The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 18:1-8

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 18:2 He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 18:3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, 'Grant me justice against my opponent.' 18:4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, 'Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 18:5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'" 18:6 And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 18:7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 18:8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

The Gospel of the Lord . . .

Jesus Lead us in Prayer

In Today's Lesson, Jesus asks us to consider the unjust judge. What makes him unjust?? What is it about his judgements that are not fair or Right?? What kind of verdicts is he arriving at that are not fulfilling the law or in what way does he misinterpret the law?? Well, we don't really have the answers to these questions, but we do recognize his hesitancy to grant this woman the justice that she seeks. Perhaps he is unjust because he is willing to dismiss the case of a widow lady. Having an uncaring or unattentive attitude toward someone who is powerless, like this widow lady, could classify the judge here as unjust.

We can only guess that if she was a wealthy business man or politician, the judge would be giving these individuals his full attention!

What is readily apparent in the parable is that Jesus presents the judge in this particular case as not responding to the continual plea of this woman. If you were to ask the judge why he is not responding to her, at first he might reply, "After all, she is only a woman!!" Oooh, now that would get him in a lot of trouble these days . . !!

In fact, the judge eventually concedes to her demands because there is some kind of troublesome consequence that is coming about as a result of her continual demand for justice. Perhaps she was drawing a crowd with her unceasing petitioning for his attention . . . "How embarrassing!!" Or maybe she was causing such a fuss that other potential clients or friends did not want to come see the judge – "She's bad for business, so why not just give in to her demands so she will go away."

We might want to note here that She seems to know her rights and she is not taking NO for an answer. If she did not get her way -- she was going to cause him more trouble. "Yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'"

What is interesting about the judge's response in Jesus' parable, is that the word he uses to describe what she will do to him, is a word that literally means "She will give me a black eye" if I don't grant her justice! And so, we may gain a new and greater appreciation for the power being exercised by this woman. She is so strong in her will to gain justice for herself, that the judge cannot bear NOT TO DO JUSTICE on her behalf.

Now before you "do violence" to me for emphasizing the woman's feminine qualities as a liability to her case . . . please understand that I am only speaking of the particular cultural and ethnic bias that existed in Jesus day. (These tendencies continue to exist in our day as well . . . since women continue to make less money than men in equivalent job fields – although the comparison levels of exploitation or inequality are far–far less today in our nation's culture than back in Jesus' time.)

In the case of this particular widow, we may surmise by the context (she is a widow demanding justice) that she may be fighting to keep the land or property that belonged to her husband who is now deceased. Perhaps another relative is attempting to claim the land based on hereditary laws. Or perhaps a person with a business interest is trying to gain the deed to her property based on a "legal loophole." It could be that a new road was to be built through her land and the ROMAN State Highway Department was going to take the land -- by force if necessary! Or it may have been that some large developer wanted the property to build a shopping district -- Herod the Great loved to build what we might call "Shopping Malls", The port/shopping district in Caesarea was like a model for the present day "Baltimore Harbor."

Someone might have wished to obtain her land by a legal power play, capturing a defenseless widow lady "unawares" could easily gain her much sought after, valuable property . . . . Her case is no different than a multitude of modern day examples, and Jesus parables allow us to identify with the plight of those who are considered powerless in a complex legal system – made all the more daunting by a judge who does not fear God nor have respect for people -- and the stakes are high!

But as we see in the parable . . ., the issue is not so much "What the Case is About" as it is, "Will the Judge Give her his full attention." Will she gain an entrance into his SERIOUS CONSIDERATION?? Or will she be dismissed from the court without a proper hearing -- without the judge properly considering her plea.

Remember her plea relates to an essentially life or death situation.

Without her land, she will suffer a sentence of DESTITUTION. She stands to lose her home, her ability to earn income, her ability to grow her own food and to have a shelter for whatever earthly goods she possesses. If the Judge will not hear her case, she could lose everything . . . if he does not take note of her rights and issue a court order on her behalf, she will have no legal authority to keep what is hers.

And so with great tenacity and faith in her cause, (Dare we say that she must exercise faith in herself!@!) She must believe most strongly that She is worth begging and fighting for. Perhaps it is not for her self that she pleads, but maybe it is for her children, daughters and sons that she is willing to sacrifice. And so She Approaches the one who holds the POWER over her destiny and future and Demands what is rightfully hers.

And it is to this kind of TENACIOUS, HOPEFUL FAITH

that Jesus refers us. . . .

We must consider ourselves worthy enough before ALMIGHTY GOD that we would approach him with boldness and self-assuredness. We must approach God in prayer with an attitude of our own "self-ambition." We go boldly in faith to demand God's grace, mercy and love – WHICH ONLY GOD CAN GIVE. The attitude of this kind of prayer comes from a deep abiding TRUST, and that is what Jesus wants for us.

The underlying message is that We have to PERSIST in our EFFORTS TO OBTAIN AN Audience with GOD. "GOD the Father, Son and Holy Spirit must hear from us, "Lord, HEAR MY PLEA . . . SEE MY DESTITUTION . . . FEEL My PAIN. ANSWER ME O GOD. FOR I AM YOUR CHILD." And this kind of praying, even in the most difficult of life circumstances, is what we are called to do.

With this kind of DETERMINATION, Jesus instructs his followers to go to God in Prayer. It is not as if PRAYER is the last resort . . . or that "it is the only option left after all human remedies have been tried. Rather, Jesus is teaching us that Prayer Is Itself a Meaningful Remedy in good times and in bad -- Prayer is that conversation we have with God that engages (his) God's power, making all things possible!

Prayer is in itself the "First Line" step to

whatever help or guidance that is needed.

Now I don't think I need to say anything about the things we might pray for, because I know you know that God is not in the habit of granting a million dollar cash bonus from work or the like. But God gives to his children what we need, and what we are mature enough to receive and use.

Certainly we must pray first with the same mind of Jesus our Lord, and in that spirit we will gain an audience with the Father.

Our practice must be to call on God in every moment, in every situation and in every circumstance. "O Lord Hear my Prayer, O Lord Hear my Prayer, When I Call, Answer Me." May you learn to be bold as did the woman in today's parable. Jesus teaches us this.


Read more writings of Pastor Jon