Jesus’ parables rarely state the lesson that we are supposed to take from them, but the introduction to this one gives it away: the “need to pray always and not to lose heart.” Where is the world turned upside down here? Perhaps Luke decided a rather obvious illustration was a welcome respite amid the whirlwind of sayings, healings, odd doings (like happily welcoming and touching the babies of strangers), and prophecies that surround this brief section.

It is no radical doctrinal claim, but I suppose it never hurts to be reminded that our God is more compassionate than a judge who has no fear of the divine or respect for any person. I certainly hope so. It’s a pretty low bar.

We know judges who seem to lack any sense of mercy. Those who, for instance, believe the so-called literal meaning of the words found in a 235-year-old document is more significant than the spirit of those words, a spirit that fuels the yearnings of the vulnerable who struggle for dignity today.

But our judge in the parable seems less interested in making and enforcing this or that social policy than in merely avoiding doing his job. He has nothing to say on the merits of the widow’s claim. He simply sends her away over and over again. When he grows tired of her pleadings, he abruptly decides the case in her favor. As I said, it’s a low bar.

Jesus assures us that God will hear and grant our petitions. God stands ready if our faith endures until the Son of Man returns. A parable after all!

Dear God who brings justice beyond law and welcome without condition, judge us in your mercy without delay so that love reigns. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 18:1-8

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Lectionary Week
October 10–16, 2022
Scripture Overview

At last Jeremiah is able to bring a message of restoration and hope. God promises a new covenant with the people, and they will internalize the law in their hearts so that they will keep it. The psalmist rejoices in such a reality. He meditates on God’s law all day and has been granted profound understanding. This allows him to walk faithfully in God’s paths. The reading from Second Timothy confirms the ongoing power of God’s law in scripture, which is given by God for our good. Timothy is charged always to be ready to preach it faithfully. Luke hits on a different theme: the importance of persistent prayer. In the parable a heartless judge finally yields to a persistent widow, so we should be similarly tenacious with our prayers to God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 31:27-34. How have you broken your covenant with God? How has God responded?
Read Psalm 119:97-104. The Jewish laws of the Hebrew scriptures are part of our Christian heritage. How can you delight in the law?
Read 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5. How can you learn or teach from scriptures you do not normally read?
Read Luke 18:1-8. Through the familiar call to pray always, the author reminds us that we are called to pray for what God wants. What is at stake when you pray for justice and mercy?

Respond by posting a prayer.