Summary: Jesus tells us that prayer is a battleaxe in the war against injustice. Prayer is a weapon against the injustice of this world.
Angelica is a poor Hispanic lady living in McAllen, Texas. She wants nothing more than clean water and reliable electricity from her landlord. But she is the unfortunate victim of a slumlord. Dateline recently reported the owner of Angelica’s pitiful apartment complex lives in luxury in Crested Butte, Colorado… … all the while his tenants, many of them immigrants, live in sub-standard conditions in one of his many apartment complexes. While the owner doesn’t spend much on upkeep of his facilities, he spends a great deal of resources toward evicting and people who travel around demanding his rent. Recently widowed, Angelica’s husband died just a few years ago in work-related accident. She married Hugo several years despite not being in love with him. A green card marriage was the fastest way she could be legal in the United States.
But now he’s gone and she finds herself with little income despite ironing and washing clothes for her wealthier, middle class neighbors, at all hours of the day. Desperately poor and wholly ignorant of the United States justice system, Angelica brings her suit against her slumlord before a local judge. Late in 2011, her case was assigned to an atheist judge who was also racist. Others had heard the judge say, “Mexicans should be sent back across the border.” The first time the widow appeared before the Judge Allen, he wouldn’t even lift his head from reading the novel in his lap. His utter contempt was palpable for all to see. If ask any number of local people, the problem for this destitute woman was she lacked money to do the one thing that always got “justice” in Judge Allen’s courtroom – a sufficient bribe. No matter, she kept asking and asking and asking. Without enough money to upgrade her living space to a better apartment complex, she appeared on the judge’s docket repeatedly. Angelic wouldn’t take no for an answer. She wrote letters, dozens of letters, where Angelica worked diligently to make her English in good order and with the correct punctuation In time, Judge Black only knew her as the crazy “Mexican lady” who kept bothering him. Finally, in embarrassment from the attention she was drawing in the community, Angelica got her ruling and slumlord was forced to upgrade his apartments. Angelica had won her case – she finally had justice. Angelica is purely fiction – I made it up! But her story is a real one throughout the United States.
The poor don’t matter and are often run over. When we think of getting justice in an unjust world, we think of lawyers, courtrooms, and lawsuits. February is black history month and the images of social justice issues center in on picket lines, marches, voting at the polls, and Rosa Parks. In recent days, social media is the place where young people fight for their rights with the hashtag: #blacklivesmatter. We think of a number of things when it comes to right the wrongs of our day, but few of us think of prayer. But Jesus saw justice differently.
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
Parables were Jesus’ favorite method to teach. At times, Jesus used parables as a weapon in His war with His opponents. Over the course of the next four weeks, I invite you to examine with me four parables of Jesus inside the gospel of Luke. A good story has strong characters and Jesus’ story has two strong characters for us today. He first introduces us to a crooked judge. Jesus then places before our attention the feeble widow.And Jesus uses these two people to drive home a point about prayer. Prayer is talking and listening to God. Prayer happens when you have a relationship to Jesus Christ, and you speak to Him and He speaks to you. Many people will pray when they are required by cultural or social expectations, or perhaps by the anxiety caused by troubling circumstances. Those with a genuine relationship with God as Father, however, want to pray and pray even though nothing on the outside is pressing them to do so.