The parable in this Sunday’s Gospel touches us on two levels – justice and prayer.
In the Hebrew tradition, the orphan and widow were to be protected by the community. In actuality, the orphan had greater recourse than the widow. From a certain point in history onwards, the courts appointed a guardian for orphans, a trustworthy man who would administer faithfully and voluntarily the estate inherited from their fathers. On the other hand, a widow was dependent on the care of the community as directed by Isaiah 1:17b – “uphold the rights of the orphan; defend the cause of the widow.” The judge had an inherent responsibility to protect the rights of the widow and yet, he could not be bothered to do his job and render a just judgement for this societal non-entity. It was only the widow’s persistence that finally moved the judge to action. This raises the question for me: For what voiceless segment of society have I neglected my responsibility for action?
The more obvious lesson this Sunday is to be faithful in prayer. The judge was unjust but eventually responded to the widow’s request because of her persistence. How much more responsive will a just and loving God be to our requests? And yet, I have learned over time that I must go to prayer with a heart open to God’s response and not “hold out” for the response that I want. Sometimes, I think that we fail to recognize that “No” is an answer. God knows what is best for me, what will help me to become the fullest person of which he dreams. Perhaps that for which I ask is not what will move me further along on that journey. And yet, if I do not get what I want, do I say that God hasn’t answered my prayer? Sometimes, I need to accept “No” as an answer and move on to another level of prayer, asking to be open to what “No” means and to recognize the right path ahead.
Sister Danielle Jacob, CSFN