Gospel Reflections

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 18:1-8

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Maria Tecla da Silva Gaia

Published: October 16, 2016

The central theme of this parable is persevering prayer.

Today's Gospel presents an element that is very dear to Luke: prayer. This is the second time that Luke gives us the words of Jesus to teach us how to pray. The first time (Lk 11: 1-13), he taught the Our Father in and through comparisons and parables; he taught us that we have to pray insistently, without getting tired. Now, this second time (Lk 18:1 – 8), he once again resorted to a parable taken from life, to teach us insistence in prayer: the parable of the widow who pestered the unscrupulous judge. The manner in which he presents the parable is didactic. First, Luke gives a brief introduction which serves as the key for reading. Then he tells the parable. Finally he explains its meaning.

The judge in this parable is from the upper class of society. The post he holds shows that he is someone very important and that he does not fear anything or anyone. He is powerful, wicked and unfair. The widow is marginalized, fragile and without resources. However, she convinces the unjust judge to deal with her case justly.

The text reveals this early on: “He told them a parable about the need to pray continually and not lose heart (Luke 18: 1).” This shows us that we must seek the solution to our just issues. The widow does not look for revenge against her opponent before seeking the judge because she is sure she is justified. This shows faith on her part.

The unjust judge is in contrast to the righteous judge, God, who hears prayers and does what is right.  If an unrighteous judge hears the most humble person in society, and judges her cause, then how much more would God do likewise? The text clearly shows this truth: “Will not God see justice done to the chosen who cry to him day and night, even when he delays to help them (Luke 18:7)?”

God is not slow to respond to the cry of his servants.

The widow was very eager to have her situation resolved. However, several meetings with the judge were needed before the issue was resolved. She had to be persistent. God arranges all things at the right time. Our anxiety often weakens our persistence and our faith. The parable ends by saying that God does justice quickly. “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily (Luke 18:8).” Thus, if a human and unjust judge can find solutions to the issues presented to him, how much more will God do likewise?

There is true faith in the prayers of people. The conclusion of the parable is impressive. Jesus drops the question of immediacy and shows that in reality what often is lacking is people's faith. The widow has faith, but many do not. Jesus questions whether those who come to God with prayers will be like the widow by persevering in faith. “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” By asking this question, Jesus says that many abandon faith at times and want everything “yesterday,” and forget that God is master of time and all things.

Do we have the same perseverance that this widow possessed? Is there anything further we can learn from this parable?

« View all Gospel Reflections