Persistence is the dominant theme in the Gospel taken from Luke 18:1-8
The judge in the Gospel gave in to the widow because he was sick to death of her pestering. God is not like that. It is difficult and theologically incorrect for us to see anything of God in the judge of this parable. One commentator suggests that instead we see God as the widow. Widows in the time of Christ were the bottom of the social order. They had no voice and no one to speak for them in time of trouble. When one sees the widow as God-like, the meaning of the parable is that when one fights injustice, and keeps fighting it, and fights it until justice is achieved, then one is like God. Jesus’ own fight against injustice, even to his death, and resurrection is the model of a God-like fight to the end, to end the world of injustice and create the kingdom of God. An interesting turn on the widow’s story! We are like Jesus, like God, when we fight injustice without ceasing, nagging and fighting till justice is achieved. It may seem that people don’t listen to us, but if we keep it up, don’t give in, justice may come by the sheer force of our persistence. Sometimes we need be in for the long haul.
Pray unceasingly, join in with the prayers of our faith community, and fight the injustices we encounter. If we continue to do this, we can bring about the kingdom of God on earth. That was Christ’s mission and it is our on this Mission Sunday.
In our case we need the help of our Church community to deal with the struggles and challenges of our lives and the lives of those around us. We can easily loose hope or be discouraged and give up on prayer when from our point of view anyway they never seem to be answered. One of the reasons that we have the ‘Prayers of the Faithful’ at Mass is because what is a private need becomes a group concern – a group act of persistence, as each week we read a list of people who need healing, who need our prayers because they have died, social justice issues which need correction, people who need our help. Our faith community can reach God with a louder voice, perhaps, and so we share our needs in a persistent way every Sunday.
Given today is Mission Sunday, last night I celebrated an old friend’s 60th birthday. It was great to see him and members of his family again. I sang at their mother’s funeral some years ago. Life goes on and paths diverge but precious memories and times of support stay with us. There is something about touching base with people at significant times which is an important part of ‘Mission’. Not everyone goes to Church. We need to take the opportunities to be the good news in people’s lives whenever the occasion arises.
At the birthday party, I was asked to sing one of my old songs entitled ‘Why do I?’ which was used in the Youth Alive Programme we had been part of in the early 90’s to support youth at risk. It is recorded on ‘Under Southern Stars’. The opening lyric is below.
Why do I? Why do I? Why do I?
Always see sadness, always see pain
Always see people out in the rain
Looking for shelter, looking for trees to climb
Sometimes I wish that my heart was blind
I want to share it with you today. It is a reminder that we need to allow people to mission to us sometimes as well as mission to them.