An Unjust Parable?
The Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them.” Luke 18:6-7
The parable says if you persistently pray and cry out to God, he will quickly grant you justice.
All of us have a history of praying persistently and fervently for very wholesome things which God didn’t grant. I once gave myself a mild ulcer by praying intensely for a long time for a physical healing. The disappointment we all know from prayers not granted collects within us and can result in resentment towards God, ourselves or the people who told us we just didn’t have enough faith.
Most of our distress comes from confusing getting justice with getting what we want from God.
Justice is the object of the widow’s persistence. Widow in Hebrew means one who has no voice. If a widow sought justice it was probably because she had been dispossessed of her share of the estate. This widow is vulnerable but not timid. The judge fears she will give him a black eye if he doesn’t grant her justice. But remember this is a parable, a teaching story, not real people.
The parable has the unjust judge granting the widow justice, probably by settling a property dispute. This is where we can get pinched by the teaching: God doesn’t intervene on earth to do the justice that is the proper responsibility of people. Yes, sometimes miracles occur and there are healings and lost objects found. But God does not pay off the student loans of single mothers, or the crushing debt of third world countries. That is our responsibility.
But the justice that God is always granting every moment is right relationship or communion with him. This communion is what sustained Jesus through his passion. This communion is the inner feast of mystics and must be the sustenance of all committed to social justice ministry. This is what is always granted without delay and faith and prayer are how we prepare to experience it.
This justice is what preserves us from losing heart in the discernment of a vocation to religious life or priesthood. Prayer that opens us more profoundly to God’s justice or relatedness produces the faith for which the whole earth aches. An important part of discernment, like the widow’s struggle, is against an opponent of God’s call in our life. The more we can name what dispossess us, whether it is anxiety, feeling worthless or negativity we are moving forward. It is up to us to name and bring to God’s justice our opponent. As it is worn down through prayer and faith our hearts will increase.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocation Director OMI Lacombe Canada Province
To contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for an appointment.