Summary: Year C. Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 18: 1-8 October 21, 2001 Heavenly Father empower each of us, to learn the discipline, of consistently turning our attention to You and your eternal dimension and outlook. Amen.
Year C. Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 18: 1-8 October 21, 2001
Heavenly Father empower each of us, to learn the discipline, of consistently turning our attention to You and your eternal dimension and outlook. Amen.
Title: “Prayer is “heightened awareness” of God’s constant presence.”
Jesus teaches his disciples about the necessity of prayer in order to remain faithful by telling the parable of the Persistent Widow.
In Luke chapter seventeen, verses twenty-two to thirty-six, Jesus has taught about the Parousia, how there will be false claims that it has come, how sudden it will come upon the earth, even though expected, and even, in verses thirty-four and five, how it will not all happen on one chronological day or the same day for all.
Now he tells the parable of a widow persistently insisting on her rights before an unjust human judge in order to teach that disciples can only prepare for that Day by consistently remaining aware of its inevitability and by using it as a stimulus for fidelity.
Verses one, introduces the passage. Verses two to five, consist of the parable proper. Verses six to eight contain a double conclusion. Luke is apparently writing for a situation where there is severe persecution of Christians, with some denying their faith.
Verses one, about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. Jewish teaching limited prayer to three times a day, lest one weary God by being a pest. Luke teaches that prayer is really “heightened awareness” of God’s constant presence. One is to learn the discipline of constant, continual, as opposed to continuous, and consistent turning of one’s attention to God and his eternal dimension and outlook and attitude. The “Day of the Son of Man,” the End Time, the full, final and obvious-to-all Parousia and Divine Presence has not come yet. The disciples are experiencing persecution, which is tempting them to give up in the face of the delay. Jesus teaches that only the constant recalling of the presence of God here and now will hearten them, give them hope, keep them faithful.
Not to lose heart, unlike Jewish teaching against wearying God with continuous prayers, Jesus teaches that the real danger is that the believer becomes weary without continual prayer, in the Lucan sense. He tells a parable to illustrate his point. The fundamental prayer for the Christian is, of course, “Thy kingdom come,” and Jesus does not want his disciples to give up before that prayer is answered fully.
In verses two, a judge, judges were paid magistrates either of Herod or of the Romans. It matters not for the parable. Both types were notorious for being able to be bribed. The presumption in this case was that some richer person bribed the judge to keep a widow, a person with few rights and no influence or power, from getting what she justly deserved, probably her deceased husband’s property or, at least, some of it, his and her “kingdom,” if you will.
In verses three, a widow, note the prominence of widows in Luke-Acts: Luke 2: 37; 4:25-26; 7:12; 20:47; 21: 2-3; Acts 6:1; 9: 39, 41. Luke highlights the role of women, the poor, the marginal, even criminals in his works. This parable is peculiar to Luke, not found in the other Synoptics.
In verse four, for a while,…refused, but later, Jesus uses these words in the this-worldly sense, the passage of chronological time. The woman’s persistence, her use of the only thing she had, wore him, the judge, down. By law, the judge was supposed to give precedence to a widow’s case, but there was no one interested enough or just enough to enforce it. He was either bribed by money or intimidated by a person of influence to delay the case.
In verse five, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, literally, the Greek says, “blacken the face,” translated here as “strike me.” It means “black eye” and is used here metaphorically. It is unlikely that the judge would fear physical violence from the widow. He fears either that her nagging will wear him out or get him a bad name in the community for refusing to hear her case, or both. He will do justice by her, but not for justice’s sake. With this verse the parable proper ends and the added interpretations or lessons begin.
In verse seven, will not God grant justice to his chosen ones. “Chosen ones” means disciples of Christ, those who accepted the salvation offered to all. Jesus makes the point that he is not comparing God to the unjust judge but contrasting him. If the judge vindicated the widow who was a stranger to him, God will most certainly vindicate his own people. If even a dishonest judge can be prevailed upon to do the right thing, how much more so will God do justice by his own. Jesus turns the question around. There can never be a question of whether God will secure justice. He does allow that in terms of chronological time there may be a question of when God will act, but never whether. God shows no favoritism.