by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The readings for Sunday, October 20, 2013:
First Reading: Genesis 32:22-31
First Reading (Semi-cont.): Jeremiah 31:27-34
Psalm: Psalm 121
Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 119:97-104
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 3:14--4:5
Gospel: Luke 18:1-8
For many years, this Gospel lesson troubled me. I tend to approach Jesus' parables as teaching us something about the nature of God, so I always look for the character that is supposed to resemble God. In this parable, of course, I immediately assume that the Judge is the God stand-in. But what does that say about the nature of God? Do we really worship a God that is so distracted that he'll only respond if we beat the door down several times?
What does it say about us that we are so quick to see God as the male, corrupt judge?
Maybe God in this story is the widow. How would this change our view of God, our view of religion, if we saw God as the more helpless characters in Scripture, as opposed to an authority figure?
It's a scarier view of God, to be sure. Most of us, if we're honest, would say that we prefer God the smiter to God the helpless widow. Even viewing God as a parent allows us to abdicate some responsibility. We’re 3 year olds, after all, praying to our parent God; we’re allowed to have temper tantrums and to refuse to do the right thing.
This parable teaches us that we're to cry out for justice day and night. If you're having trouble praying, turn your attention towards the people who are suffering in this world. Pray for whichever population is being slaughtered today. Pray for the survivers of genocide Pray for the people, whomever they might be this week, who are suffering from a natural disaster. Pray for all who need to have continuing courage to resist dictatorship. Pray for the underclass that rots in jails in our own country. Pray for the poor, beleaguered planet as it swelters beneath a merciless sun.
If the stones can cry out for justice (a line from a different Gospel), so can you. And you can take comfort from the fact that God cries out for justice right along beside you.
Remember, the parable promises a positive outcome. Go back to the first verse: "And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart." That's the lesson of the parable. Always pray. Don’t lose heart.